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John Stallworth Foundation funds ‘Y’ swim lessons for Triana youngsters

At Hogan Family YMCA, aquatics instructor Alan Kent works with students from Triana. The children are learning to swim with funding from the John Stallworth Foundation. (CONTRIBUTED)
At Hogan Family YMCA, aquatics instructor Alan Kent works with students from Triana. The children are learning to swim with funding from the John Stallworth Foundation. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Eighteen youngsters from the Triana community are learning to swim at Hogan Family YMCA, thanks to the John Stallworth Foundation.

John and Flo Stallworth established their foundation in 1980 to provide merit-based scholarships to deserving students attending their alma mater, Alabama A&M University.

On Saturdays in September, YMCA employees Ginger Upshaw and Alan Kent instruct the children, ranging from six- to 14-year-olds. When lessons end, participants plunge down slides and play in the splash park.

“Heart of the Valley YMCA is extremely proud of the relationship that we have with community leaders, such as John Stallworth,” Heart of the Valley YMCA Chairman Scott Seeley said. “Mr. Stallworth’s support through the John Stallworth Foundation has made free, confidence-building, life-saving swim lessons possible for Triana’s children, in addition to his generous gift that made the Hogan Family YMCA a reality.”

“It’s our pleasure to serve the Madison-Triana community with relevant, socially responsible programming that strengthens individuals and families through the financial support and good wishes of Y donors,” Seeley said.

Instructors evaluate the participants’ swim skills and place them small groups “to tailor lessons to each child’s specific needs in the learn-to-swim process,” Upshaw said. Kent works with the more advanced groups to refine freestyle and new strokes.

“I have predominately the younger crew. We’re working on getting over fear of the water and introductory freestyle,” Upshaw said.

The Triana children tell their instructors about enjoying their time at Hogan Family YMCA. “They, like most other kids, seem to be most excited about the slides,” Upshaw said.

Triana Mayor Mary Caudle has “been kind enough to take time out of her Saturday morning to join us,” Upshaw said. Some parents also observe lessons. Madison City Schools transports the children from Triana to the Y.

The groups’ camaraderie pleases Upshaw. One boy started screaming, “Tacos!” every time he goes down the slide. “It caught on quickly,” Upshaw said. “Before long, you didn’t hear a child going down the slide who wasn’t screaming, ‘Tacos.'”

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