Children from Oakton, Dawes and Washington schools are part of the pilot program 'Evanston Swims!'

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Approximately 125 second-graders from Oakton, Dawes and Washington elementary schools began a free swimming and water safety instruction program at McGaw YMCA and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore on Oct. 3. The pilot program, called Evanston Swims!, is an initiative of Evanston 150 in partnership with School District 65, the McGaw Y and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

“Water, Water, Everywhere,” one of the Evanston 150 committees has as a goal that every child in Evanston learn to swim.

The program will run on seven school improvement days during the school year when students are released early from school so teachers can participate in professional development, said Pam James, a board member of McGaw Y and a volunteer with Evanston 150. Ms. James said the group would like to expand the program to include all schools, which may require additional pool space, partners, and resources. She said a fund had been set up at Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) for donations to help support the program.

Superintendent Hardy Murphy said District 65 physical education teachers have worked up a curriculum for the program, and that the District arranged for bus transportation for the students.

Sara Schastok, president and CEO of ECF, said, “We hope the fund established at ECF will make sure the program is sustainable. The community said every child in this community along the lake should know how to swim. This is a beautiful collaboration to make this happen.”

Donations to the fund may be made by check made out to ECF with “Evanston Swims” on the memo line. Mail them to ECF at 1007 Church St., Suite 108, Evanston IL, 60201.