LAPLACE — Free swimming lessons and water aerobics classes are two offerings St. John the Baptist Parish made available to residents this summer.
For the third consecutive year, St. John Parish offered the Ashley Kelly Swim Program through a collaborative effort with the American Red Cross and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.
By its conclusion next week, the program will have given over 200 parish youth the opportunity to receive life-saving swimming skills and learn about safety in and around swimming pools and other bodies of water.
Through the program, certified instructors teach participants water skills through fun activities.
Traditionally offered to youth 5-17 years old, Instructor Anita Hefler said several adults signed up for the lessons this year.
“A lot of people were saying they were signing up their kids to learn how to swim, especially since they didn’t know how,” Hefler said, adding this was the first year adults were allowed to sign up.
She noted how important it is for St. John Parish residents to know how to swim, since there is water saturating many areas of the parish.
Girtie Byrd said her three granddaughters were having a lot of fun at this week’s lessons. She said her family found out about the lessons through letters sent home from school in May, and she is excited the children were learning proper swim techniques, especially since she has a pool at her house.
Hefler said the lessons have been a great success, and she hopes they will help to prevent water-related tragedies.
The Ashley Kelly Swim Program provides astronomical benefits to the youth of our community,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom. “If one life is saved as a result of this program, it will be a success.”
Another summer water activity still on-going in the parish is water aerobics classes.
This new offering is taught from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and again from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Regala Park Pool, located at 194 Regala Park Road in Reserve.
Hefler said participants may bring their own water shoes, gloves or pool noodle.
For more information, call Debra Poche at 985-652-9569.
One of the programs Hefler said she would like to work on offering with the parish is an adaptive aquatics program for the parish’s physically handicapped residents.
Hefler said she started the adaptive aquatics program at Elmwood Fitness Center over 10 years ago and thinks it would be a great addition to the St. John Parish recreation department.