CCC singers become swimmers
To the Editor:
For the past two years, we have had the honor of teaching the youngest members of the Chester Children’s Chorus to swim during their five-week Summer Program. Now learning to swim is one of the highlights of the day, thanks to many high school and college volunteers.
Each of the more than a dozen volunteers works closely with two or three children. This provides an opportunity to build trust in the water, so that the children feel comfortable learning and practicing their new skills.
It’s amazing to see the progress that the children make after ten lessons. Several of the 3rd graders are now swimming independently. And almost all of the older 4th graders are able to swim an entire length of the pool, tread water for 15 seconds or more, and, in many cases, dive into the deep-end.
Water Safety Topics are also covered each week, and the children love chanting the catchy phrases, like “Swim in a pair near the lifeguard chair,” “Look before you leap,” and “Reach or throw don’t go.”
None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the volunteers, many of whom take time off from their lifeguard jobs at local pools to help for two hours each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon over five weeks.
Swarthmore College has graciously offered its pool to CCC for these lessons. And, each Friday, the Ridley YMCA has opened up the Ridley High School pool for free swimming. This is when the children can practice their new skills and just enjoy the water. Many of the children don’t have access to pools like the children in the Swarthmore/Wallingford communities.
Beyond teaching a lifelong skill the children can enjoy, these lessons are about public safety. Rates of drowning among inner city children are five times higher than for suburban children. We think that is plainly unacceptable. Plus, it’s been a joy to get to know these kids so well. They are both tireless and filled with boundless energy and joy.
We are grateful to CCC for welcoming the program, to Swarthmore College for opening its beautiful pool, and, most of all, to the many volunteer instructors!
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the CCC website where you can find a video of the Swim Program.
Charlotte and Susan Brake
Miguel and Ana update
To the Editor:
It has been about a year, and many of you have written me, asking for an update on Miguel, the hard-working and bright-eyed Swarthmore garbage collector whose hand was crushed during an on-the-job accident. Last summer our community came together and pooled the funds to pay for his daughter’s first semester at community college and provide all of her books; created a career of house cleaning jobs for Miguel’s wife, Ana; introduced them to community resources they would never have known about; and equally important: provided a sense of value for Miguel, that he in fact was not “invisible” in our community but rather appreciated by so many for his strong work ethic and warm heart. All of the cards sent along with the gifts of money meant so very much to him and he has kept each one.
I met with Miguel and Ana today and as usual their gratitude and humility is always striking. After a year of physical therapy, Miguel received the grave news that his hand will never be the same again. This is hard for a man who truly loved his job and misses it every day. He spends his days working on the computer and English language program that were donated to him by Swarthmoreans, and feeding and caring for the homeless animals in his neighborhood. He is so positive, as is Ana, who expresses the wonder and relief she feels at getting to come to Swarthmore several times a week to clean houses and be in such a peaceful environment. As Miguel said to me today, “Swarthmore made everything much better. Much better.”
I asked Miguel how he was recovering from the trauma of the accident and he admits it is still a struggle. I looked at them both with their big, tired smiles on their faces and I thought that after the life of hard work and sacrifice they have lived and after the past year of trauma: they need a vacation. I said to Ana, “Where is your dream vacation?” She looked at Miguel, “Two nights in Cape May, right, Miguel? The beach? I always hear how beautiful Cape May is.” “Me, I like the beach,” Miguel said, and then asked me about my trip I had taken this summer.
And as I spoke, I kept thinking that in recovering from trauma in particular, it is important to get away and be in a place void of stress. So I would like to start a little beach fund for them for anyone who would like to contribute. They have no idea that I am doing this, so if no one contributes, no harm. But even if a bunch of people contribute a bit, it would provide a fabulous and healing gift for them that many of us take for granted each summer. If you are interested, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
To the Editor:
I have found that the person quickest to accuse others of lying is often the person to whom lying comes naturally. This is the case for Mr. Trump, who tells lots of outright lies and disguises the whoppers by prefacing them with “Many people say,” a common tactic of demagogues wishing to spread a lie while avoiding responsibility.
As of this writing, his most recent lie was a few hours ago when he talked about how much criminality has increased in recent years, when in fact there has been a downward trend in criminality for two decades. Realizing that the recent murders of police officers and killings of unarmed minorities by police has created a perception of a “trend” in lawlessness, he couldn’t resist using these tragic deaths to score political points.
Mr. Trump claims that he will be the “law and order candidate” but was light on specifics as to how he would reverse his imagined crime wave. I can help.
He can urge support for the accountability measures outlined in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report, a milestone in the effort by law enforcement professionals to better protect both their officers and the communities they serve. He can urge accountability not only for what officers do, but also for what they don’t do when they fail to expose significant abuses of authority by their fellow officers.
I have conducted studies of the justice system, including evaluations of police departments, for 20 years. Historically, in many departments there has been an unwritten “code of silence”: an officer must not expose or speak out about a fellow officer who is disrespectful or abusive, behaviors experienced disproportionately in communities of color. In extreme cases, officers may file false incident reports to cover up misconduct, or fail to provide incriminating information, even when a fellow officer’s misconduct rises to the level of criminal acts.
Ending the code of silence is not easy, but it may be the most important step that can be taken toward improving relationships between police and minority communities, and securing the safety of both officers and citizens.