How the Free Swim Lesson Registration Process Works
The diagram to the right demonstrates
the process of registering and utilizing Swim Empowerment's Free Swim
Call your YMCA
The first step is calling your local YMCA to confirm there is still an opening for non-swimmers in your child's age bracket and for the period of time you wish them to attend.
The second step is to apply using the "Register Now" Button above. Go ahead!
Once your application has been received, it will be forwarded tot he YMCA you have chosen. They will contact you to schedule lessons for your child.
Once the YMCA has scheduled your child's lesson, you will receive a call or email from the YMCA directly confirming logistics. Now your child is ready to start his/her swimming lessons!
Please check your phone and email frequently for confirmation.
East Side/Mt. Hope YMCA
Kent County YMCA (Warwick)
Newman YMCA (Seekonk, MA)
South County YMCA (Peace Dale)
Newport County YMCA (Middletown)
Pawtucket Family Branch YMCA
We believe that in order to reintroduce swimming into African American community, it is important to begin with children. Every year, Stages of Freedom provides the funds for an increasing number of Rhode Island youth of color to take swimming lessons through seven partnering YMCAs. Last year we put 311 children in swimming lessons.
This year our goal is 400.
Please help us meet that goal.
Stages of Freedom's Swim Empowerment program relies heavily on small donations from generous individuals and businesses. We operate a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and all donations are tax-exempt. Please consider making a donation today to help us continue funding children's swimming programs and grow in our community.
Town Fair Tire
Rhode Island Senate Legislative Grant - RI Senator Samuel D. Zurier
Rotary Club of Providence
The ACT Foundation
Hassenfeld Family Foundation
Barrington Congregational Church
Seekonk Congregational Church
Ricci Family Fund
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI
Rhode Island Foundation
Gary & Lois Caplinger
William Conley, Esq
David & Mary Oberg
Herbert Rakatansky, MD
Dexter Commission - City of Providence
Norman & Rosalie Fain Family Foundation
Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund
Matthew Lopes, Jr. Esq.
McAdams Charitable Foundation
First Unitarian Church of Providence
Basic Human Needs
Removing Barriers to Swimming Proficiency in the Rhode Island African American Community
Swim Empowerment, a program of Stages of Freedom, has released an important report on ways to eliminate the obstacles that prevent African Americans in Rhode Island from becoming swimmers. The report entitled "Removing Barriers to Swimming Proficiency in Rhode Island African American Community", provides a comprehensive outline of the economic, cultural, and psychological barriers that prevent minorities in Rhode Island from learning how to swim and presents a comprehensive 10 year plan to teach them how to swim.
The report explains that the US has nearly 3,500 accidental drownings of children every year, almost 10 a day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children. The fatal drowning rate of African American children aged 5-14 is three times that of white children. This startling statistic may be attributed to the fact that 70% of African Americans do not know how to swim. Swim Empowerment seeks to change these numbers by giving Rhode Island youth direct access to the resources they need to learn how to swim: transportation, open pools, and highly qualified, culturally-sensitive swimming instructors.
Swim Empowerment's mission is to create a new generation of swimmers in the African American Rhode Island community and to provide all Rhode Island children with the opportunity to learn how to swim. Its 2016 goal was to raise $20,000 to pay for swimmers.
Dr. Michael Fine, former director of the RI Department of Health, gave his full support of Swim Empowerment's initiative. In the report's foreword he remarks, "It is with pleasure and pride that I add my voice to this report's call for action, to the undertaking of Swim Empowerment". While complex, and frequently specific to minority and low-income communities, he insists that barriers to equal participation in this sport are "not insurmountable". Dr. Fine note that swimming is not only a life-saving skill, "swimming is also freedom".
Ray Rickman, Executive Director of Stages of Freedom, was inspire to combat the disparity in drowning rates for African Americans after he saw young men and women drown due to their not knowing how to swim, which he insists should be a basic life skill. Rickman relates a particularly tragic anecdote about a mother whose son drowned 22 years ago at Rhode Island's Lincoln Woods State Park. Rickman, then State Representative from Providence's College Hill, promised this mother that he would do something about the inordinate drowning rate among Black children. Rickman believes the time has come for him to turn his full attention to teaching young African Americans how to swim.
"Twenty-two years later I am as good as my word", he writes in the Report's preface. Rickman describes Swim Empowerment as "the major undertaking of my life". He hopes that all Rhode Islander's will get deeply involved to show that together "we can value each of our citizens equally" by promoting swimming, which is not only a life-saving skill but also an excellent opportunity to promote health and wellness. "Please join us", Rickman writes. "After all, I promised a mother".
Krystle Ford & Jon Belisle
White Plains Bureau of Public Works
Christine & Richard MacManus
Shelley B. Mayer & Lee O. Smith
Margaret Vlymen & Dean Wood
Sister to Sister International, Inc.
1/23/1956 - 7/9/2019
The following have donated to swim empowerment in memory of our great champion
paula redd rollins
For parents whose children have participated in swimming lessons provided by Stages of Freedom, we ask that you take a survey based on the experience. Survey data will help us better serve future participants. All of your answers are completely confidential.
Thank you for your participation.