Portland, Maine – March 28, 2012 – The Michael Phelps Foundation today announced the expansion of its signature im program to 28 Boys & Girls Clubs, including one on a U.S. Naval installation in Naples, Italy. The Foundation will work with each Boys & Girls Club to implement its signature im program, a learn-to-swim program designed to grow the sport of swimming and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle, especially among children. The im program was launched as a national pilot in 2010 with six Boys & Girls Clubs and has since instructed more than 2,300 children how to swim, with more than 80% of the participants receiving swimming instruction (im safe) for the first time in their lives.
Developed in partnership with KidsHealth.org and the Michael Phelps Swim School, the im program is based on the same basic techniques and principles that Michael Phelps has implemented throughout his swimming career. Named in recognition of Phelps’ signature event, the Individual Medley, and as an abbreviation to the self-affirming “I am,” nearly 90% of the program’s participants are under the age of 12, the most at-risk age range for drowning.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to help provide the same swim instruction that I received as a child when I was enrolled in a water safety class at five years old,” said Phelps, a 16-time Olympic medalist and Founder of the Michael Phelps Foundation. “We want to keep kids water safe and with the support of the Boys & Girls Clubs, we have been able to grow the sport of swimming, promote a healthy and active lifestyle for children and help kids gain confidence through setting and achieving goals. We have received incredible feedback after the first full year and we are looking forward to reaching more kids in 2012.”
The im Program consists of five focus areas, or im “bubbles”: im safe, water safety instruction; im fun, recreational aquatic activities; im fast, structured & organized swimming; im healthy, health and wellness; and im successful, goal-setting education. Participants earn medals as they advance through the curriculum with the opportunity to earn eight medals upon completion of the program.
“This program and partnership is making a huge difference in the lives of kids,” Frank Sanchez, vice president, Sports, Entertainment & Alumni Development. “Michael is an incredible inspiration to young people and is helping our kids to stay safe in and around the water.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages one to four. A 2008 survey conducted by USA Swimming and the USA Swimming Foundation determined that two key barriers preventing children from learning to swim were fear of injury or drowning, and the lack of parental encouragement.
In its first year as a fully operational program in 2011, the im program was offered in 16 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, reaching more than 3,000 total participants. The im program has proven to be an effective initiative to teach children how to swim, while educating them on how to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
After a successful year running the im program with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Michael Phelps Foundation has expanded the im program offering to include 16 returning Clubs and an additional 12 Clubs, bringing the program to a total of 28 sites across 22 states. The Michael Phelps Foundation’s program includes Boys & Girls Clubs in the following locations:
* Returning Club from 2011
To learn more about the Michael Phelps Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.michaelphelpsfoundation.org.
About the Michael Phelps FoundationThe Michael Phelps Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthy and active lives, especially for children. Fourteen-time Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps established the Foundation with the $1MM bonus he received from long-time sponsor Speedo for winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. The Foundation’s first initiative was a nationwide tour to share Phelps’ Olympic experience and promote his message of Dream, Plan, Reach with members of the Boys & Girls Clubs. Since then, the Foundation has developed and launched the im program, helped establish Level Field Fund-Swimming, a grant giving program that provides funding to uniquely talented swimmers in need of financial assistance, and offers autographed swim caps for charity auctions through Caps-for-a-Cause. For more information, please visit us online at www.michaelphelpsfoundation.org or http://www.facebook.com/MichaelPhelpsFoundation.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of AmericaFor more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve some 4 million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native American lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. Clubs provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at bgca.org/facebook and bgca.org/twitter.
About KidsHealth®KidsHealth.org is the #1 site devoted to children’s health and development in English and Spanish. Each year, over 200 million parents, kids, and teens turn to KidsHealth.org for expert answers, making it the Web’s most-accessed site on children’s health. KidsHealth.org has been honored as one of the 30 Best Websites by U.S. News & World Report, one of the 50 Coolest Websites by TIME magazine, and the Best Family Health Site “For Moms” by Good Housekeeping. KidsHealth also creates KidsHealth in the Classroom, a free website for educators featuring standards-based health curricula, activities, and handouts. KidsHealth comes from Nemours, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit pediatric health systems and a founding member of the Partnership for a Healthier America, a partner to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign that mobilizes the nation to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation. For more information about KidsHealth, please visit KidsHealth.org.
About the Michael Phelps Swim SchoolThe Michael Phelps Swim School is a learn-to-swim program for all ages and abilities that is designed to help individuals become comfortable, confident, and safe, both in and around the water. Developed over the course of three decades of practical experience, Michael Phelps Swim School offers world-class swimming instruction including water safety, stroke development, water sports and games, personal growth, and rescue skills. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, the Michael Phelps Swim School has instructed more than 15,000 individuals. For more information, including locations and affiliates, please visit www.mpswimschool.com or www.facebook.com/mpswimschool.
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