Watch CBS News

Free swim lessons for children offered in Miami-Dade area

Free swim lessons available for children this summer
Free swim lessons available for children this summer 02:49

MIAMI - We are about a month away from the first official day of summer and the heat is already on.

So many of us will spend our time in the pool or at the beach. According to the American Red Cross drowning is still the leading cause of death for children one to four years old, besides birth defects, but swim lessons can be expensive. So we went to find out where to learn how to swim for free!

"I love to get in the water," said seven-year-old Kaliyah Readon, who plans to spend her summer doing tricks in the pool. "I love to swim because every time I get in the pool I do front flips."

Kaliyah's comfort around the water is all thanks to Dr. Bridget McKinney, the principal at Miami Carol City Senior High School and the founder of P-SWAP in Opa-locka.

"We teach kids to learn to swim to prevent unintentional injuries or death," Dr. McKinney said.

Dr. McKinney teaches about 400 children how to swim each summer, at no charge, all with the help of the American Red Cross and The Children's Trust.

"This gives me a platform to continue these efforts. Not just teach them to swim but to train them to be safe around bodies of water," says Dr. McKinney.

Learning to swim is an important lesson that can save a child's life 03:57

For the last ten years, she has volunteered her time to make sure children in her community know what to do in a water emergency and the parents are grateful.

"Our Black and brown children have the highest death rates when it comes to drowning. As a parent knowing that my baby can swim and he will forever be able to take that skill," said Opa-locka Commissioner Veronica Williams, whose son took the lessons.

The children really are learning the importance of these lessons.

"If I don't know how to swim I could drown but if I do know how to swim I will not drown," said Veronica's son, Jaylen.

Kayliah agrees.

"I have a teacher so I don't drown," she said.

In Miami Gardens, swim lessons are also free for all residents starting at just six months old.

"The earlier you can get them involved in it, teach them how not to fear water but how to respect water I think it will carry them for a long time in their lives," said Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris.

The mayor says offering life-saving skills for free is important in his community and all over South Florida.

"We're giving opportunities to our residents and our younger residents to be in a position to save their lives or somebody else's lives," said the mayor.

With water surrounding us, knowing what to do and how to do it can save lives.

"We have pools. People have pools in their backyards, we have canals that surround us so it's important that we teach our kids how to swim," said Harris.

"Our swim lessons are free. Completely free. So there is no excuse," said Karla Smith, the Aquatic Facilities manager for Miami Gardens.

Miami Gardens residents can find more information about the program here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.