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Black Swimming Initiative holds free swimming event aimed at BIPOC families

The Black Swimming Initiative has been around since 2020. The goal is to teach BIPOC kids how to swim.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A group called the Black Swimming Initiative will hold a free swim class at Broughton Beach in Portland this weekend. The event is open to everyone, but it was created to be a welcoming environment for Black families to develop swim skills.  

Nearly 70% of Black children have no to low swimming skills, according to the group, and Black children between ages 10-14 drown at higher rates than white children.

Co-founder Morgan Spriggs said the group started back in 2020, and along with swimming lessons, they also teach kids about the ecology of the Columbia River. Spriggs said historically, public pools have not been located in Black neighborhoods. 

"Black folks have been denied the access to the pool areas around the country, we've even showed that in the Portland area," Spriggs said. "If we can break the cycle and train little children along with their parents and show them it's safe to get in to the water, we can break that institutional thing."

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Space is limited for this event and pre-registration is required. If people are interested, they can register online

Spriggs said this is the group's fifth event and second time at Broughton Beach. He said they will teach students how to asses the beaches and setup river pools, which involves putting ropes into the river.

The free swimming event will be held at Broughton Beach from 10 a.m. noon and 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 30.

The Black Swimming Initiative will hold more swimming lessons throughout the summer and the next one will be at Cathedral Park.

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