GEHA, YMCA and the Hunt Family Foundation Launch Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program
GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.), the Hunt Family Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City announced November 1, 2022, their continued support and dedication to addressing barriers to health equity through the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, Presented by GEHA.
GEHA, the Hunt Family Foundation and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City will collaborate to expand their efforts to help up to 650 students with swim lessons and equipment through a pledge of nearly $50,000.
The inaugural collaboration, launched in June of 2022, began through a partnership with GEHA, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. This focused on GEHA’s efforts to support health equity through water safety and aquatics access and intentionally examines the root causes behind health inequities, such as cultural and geographic hindrances to aquatics, segregation and generational traumas that produced inaccessibility issues around water safety. Having provided funding for up to 200 students’ summer swim lessons and equipment at Parkwood Pool, the only public pool in the third-largest city in the state, 100% of the student participants improved their water safety knowledge and abilities. More than 38% of students, which were predominantly of color, were never submerged in water prior to the program.
“GEHA has a long-standing commitment to addressing inequities in health care and the social determinants of health that plague people of color among our members and in our hometown community,” said GEHA President & CEO Arthur A. Nizza, DSW. “Being at the forefront of efforts to ensure equitable and inclusive access for underserved communities is in our DNA. It’s why opportunities like the Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program Presented by GEHA are hallmarks of the work we do to help close equity gaps for kids in the Kansas City area.”
The program was recently expanded as The Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, Presented by GEHA to commemorate the life and legacy of Joe Delaney, the record-breaking Kansas City Chiefs running back. Delaney tragically drowned while attempting to rescue three young boys in Louisiana in 1983, after his second professional football season.
“Our partnership with GEHA and our relationship with the YMCA are integral pieces of our ongoing commitment to the Kansas City community,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “Supporting the Learn to Swim Program, and having GEHA and the YMCA name the program after a true hero and legend in Joe Delaney, is a fitting tribute to addressing water safety and access for all in our community.”
The expanded program is set to resume in January of 2023, with programs taking place at five Kansas City metro locations through the summer of 2023, including the North Kansas City YMCA, the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Center, the Cleaver Family YMCA, Kirk Family YMCA and Parkwood Pool. Each location serves culturally diverse student bodies within walking distance of the pool. With further awareness to participation barriers, each student will receive a new swim towel featuring the Joe Delaney decal that was worn in memorial on Kansas City Chiefs players’ jerseys, along with access to free swimsuits, goggles, and sunscreen.
“At the Y, we’re committed to eliminating drowning, and we believe everyone should have access to swim lessons,” said Mark Hulet, Chief Operating Officer of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. “Thanks to the support of GEHA and the Hunt Family Foundation, we can work together to remove barriers and help make sure kids across the metro have the skills they need to safely enjoy the water.”
For More Information
The Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program Presented by GEHA will provide programs in partnership with specific schools and communities. Below is information about who each program will serve.
If a student does not attend one of the schools listed below but is interested in swim lesson and water safety opportunities, please contact your local Y about regularly scheduled group swim lessons. As a nonprofit, the Y is committed to serving all in need, and financial assistance is available to those who are unable to pay the fees for group lessons. Swim lessons are available for all ages, including adults.
North Kansas City YMCA: Vouchers will be distributed to North Kansas City School District students who qualify. The voucher is good for eight, 35-minute swim lessons equaling 280 minutes of swim instruction. The classes will include levels one through six of swim skills and all safety topics that are in the Safety Around Water program. Participants who qualify will be responsible for signing up for classes, and transportation to and from classes. Most classes will be held in the evenings and/or weekends.
Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Centers: The program will be held for 60 Central High School students in ninth and tenth grades and implemented by trained YMCA staff. It will consist of four, two-hour classroom and in-water sessions over a four-week timeframe. YMCA leadership will work directly with Central High School and any other participating schools to determine program session dates/times and provide educational information to families. More information will be shared with qualifying families.
Cleaver Family YMCA: The Cleaver YMCA swim program will be implemented by trained YMCA staff and will consist of eight, 35-minute in-water summer sessions over a four-week timeframe. YMCA leadership will work directly with nearby school districts to promote program session dates and times as well as provide educational information to qualifying families. This program will be offered in Summer 2023. Session 1: June 6 – 29, 2023; Session 2: July 11 - August 3, 2023. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Kirk Family YMCA: Kirk Family YMCA is next door to Crossroads Charter School in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Crossroads students will walk next door after school to receive swimming lessons for eight Learn to Swim/Safety Around Water classes (twice a week for four weeks) totaling 280 minutes of swim lessons per session. There are approximately 320 kids at the Crossroads Charter School. The program’s goal is to teach just under half of the school population in the spring semester of 2023. Crossroads families will receive more information.
Providence YMCA/Parkwood Pool: Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools will work with two neighborhood schools, Quindaro and Caruthers Elementary Schools, to engage students in a Learn to Swim program in Summer 2023. The lessons will be offered in two four-day sessions, over two weeks in June and July 2023.
Support Water Safety
If you or your company would like to support the further expansion of Learn to Swim programs, please contact Jessica Earnshaw at Giving@KansasCityYMCA.org. Or make an online donation and under "Donor Designation," select "Water Safety" from the "Y Location/Program" dropdown menu.
GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.) is a nonprofit member association that provides medical and dental benefits to more than 2 million federal employees and retirees, military retirees and their families. Offering one of the largest medical and dental benefit provider networks available to federal employees in the United States, GEHA empowers health and wellness by meeting its members where they are, when they need care.
Headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, with approximately 1,600 employees, GEHA is committed to its members and their communities. GEHA has gained distinctive civic recognition by being named one of the top 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America, 2022 Corporate Partner of the Year for the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the 2022 Nonprofit Champion of Diversity for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the 2022 Truly the Best Business of the Year for Lee's Summit (Missouri) Chamber of Commerce. In 2022, GEHA signed the CEO Action Pledge, furthering its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Since 2021, GEHA has held exclusive naming rights to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Kansas City Chiefs.
ABOUT THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS/HUNT FAMILY FOUNDATION
Founded as the Dallas Texans in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) by sports pioneer Lamar Hunt, the franchise moved to Kansas City in 1963 and became known as the Kansas City Chiefs. The team currently competes in the West Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Under the guidance of the Hunt Family and the leadership of Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, the mission of the Kansas City Chiefs is to Win with Character, Unite our Community, Inspire our Fans and Honor Tradition. The Hunt Family Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation committed to making a positive impact in the communities where the Chiefs live and work through philanthropy, programming and volunteerism. In order to maximize financial support, the Hunt Family Foundation gives priority to organizations that demonstrate a major programmatic focus and commitment to the service of children’s health and wellness, children and families in crisis, civic responsibility, and the legacy of the Kansas City Chiefs and the National Football League.
For information about the Kansas City Chiefs and the Hunt Family Foundation, visit www.chiefs.com.
ABOUT THE YMCA OF GREATER KANSAS CITY
Driven by its founding mission, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community since 1860. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y’s goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across communities. The Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Visit KansasCityYMCA.org for more information.