TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Participants ages 4 to 14 and University of Alabama and local officials will celebrate Swim to the Top, a four-week program designed to save lives and improve the health of at-risk children and youth, at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, June 30, at the Benjamin Barnes Branch YMCA.
In its third year, the program is a collaborative effort among the Benjamin Barnes Branch of the YMCA, Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority, UA’s department of kinesiology and UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships.
Each UA student swim instructor works with four or five participants. In addition to swimming, participants also exercise, receive diet information and play games. The students also were exposed to golf through the participation of the First Tee of Tuscaloosa.
“We believe our collective efforts will lead to youth who are more comfortable in the water and are more aware and knowledgeable of the importance of nutrition and physical activity in their lives,” said LaKeda Smith, Barnes Branch YMCA executive director.
“Projects such as Swim to the Top offer UA graduate and undergraduate students an opportunity to gain valuable practical teaching, research and service experience,” said Dr. Matthew Curtner-Smith, department head and professor in the department of kinesiology and faculty adviser to the project.
At the luncheon, session leaders will recognize the participating students, their families and program team members.
Dr. Rosianna Gray, community education director for the center, praised the results of the program and said plans are underway to host the program again next year.
Students get basic safety instructions from a UA swim team teacher at Benjamen Barnes YMCA pool.
Members of the swim team assisting with the program this year are Stephen Casale, Mallory Durbin, Caitlyn Freeman, Abigail Greenwalt, Joshua Harper, Jennifer Jensen, Jessica Lambert, Alexandra McNatt, Carrington Rye and Jenna Starck.
Other instructors and facilitators are: Lakeda Smith, Laura Payton, Mark Harrison and Brandon McAway (administrative team); Mishon Flanigan, Julia Sanders, Antonio Gardner and Savannah Millsaps (enrichment and nutrition team); and Dr. Jermaine Mitchell, Rebecca Lundgren, and Douglas Craddock (fitness team).
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.