Willmar residents are working together on another thoughtful response to last week's tragic drownings of 10-year-old Idris Hussein and 11-year-old Ahmed Hashi in Foot Lake.
Water safety training and swimming lessons.
In the West Central Tribune article, Preventing another tragedy, Gretchen Brown reports:
"These two young children have to be the last, last, last, last," one man had said at their June 28 burial, yelling louder with each word.
Area groups like Willmar Community Education and Recreation and the YMCA have provided traditional swimming lessons to the Willmar community for years.
Pam Vruwink of WCER says there's a gap between what is currently offered and what is needed. She's working to fix it.
"I think it's really important that we are flexible and respond to the needs of the community," Vruwink said. "We need to reevaluate what we're currently providing."
Traditional swimming lessons aren't always the perfect fit for all, culturally or practically.
So WCER is in the preliminary stages of planning several introductory water safety sessions, with a goal to teach children and others common water hazards and how to help out if they see someone in trouble. . . .
With the sticker price for traditional swimming lessons through WCER ringing in at $45 per session, without scholarships, some are unable to participate.
Since last week's drowning, WCER has been approached by several businesses and groups wanting to contribute financially to the cause and help sponsor students.
"They say, 'We see the value in swimming lessons,'" Vruwink said.
Older students in the Willmar School District can receive swimming lessons through middle school gym classes, but some don't participate, for religious objections or otherwise.
"There are a number of girls that aren't participating, because of the clothing, religious beliefs," Vruwink said.
There, WCER saw another gap. It began offering a girls-only swimming lesson class this summer.
It's great to see the community rise to answer the cry from the heart by the man at the burial in a practical way. Readers who want to help financially provide or physically teach swimming lessons can call the WCER office at 320-231-8490, the West Central Tribune reports.
Early reports from Bluestem:
Photo: Mementos left by well-wishers last week near the spot where Idris Hussein and Ahmed Hashi drowned.
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