Skip to main content

New partnership provides swim lessons to KCK students

YMCA of Greater Kansas City
February 28, 2022
Image - Y logo, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools logo, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City Kansas logo, WarnerMedia logo, photos of swim instructor helping child float on back, boy smiling on edge of pool, instructor teaching two students sitting on edge of pool

Following the drowning of a 13-year-old Kansas City, Kan., boy last summer, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas are launching a Learn to Swim program. 

The program, funded by a grant from WarnerMedia, will provide swim lessons at no cost to students in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools. The first phase will include lessons for 200 kindergarten through 6th grade students in the district’s after school program before the end of the school year. The inaugural classes started six weeks of lessons in February.

The Learn to Swim KCK program kicked off with a ceremony at 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 23 at the Providence YMCA (8601 Parallel Pkwy, Kansas City, KS 66112) with students participating in swim lessons following the ceremony. View a video from KCKPS about the event.

The event included:

  • Guest speaker Cullen Jones, an African-American competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medalist who helps raise awareness about the sport of swimming for youth of color.
  • Remarks from leaders from each of the partner organizations 
  • Acknowledgement of the family of the KCK student who drowned last summer
  • Recognition of two longtime advocates of youth recreation and swimming, Winnie Ayers, former educator with KCKPS and swim instructor with the YMCA, and Earl Watson, Wyandotte County Parks and Recreation.

With a focus on life-saving swim skills and water safety, the lessons aim to prevent drowning. Plans are to expand the program to include students throughout the district, including middle and high schoolers.

The partnership is dedicated to the memory of Emmanuel Solomon, the 13-year-old who drowned last summer at Parkwood Pool. He was a student at Carl B. Bruce Middle School in KCKPS.

“Partnerships like the one we are witnessing today demonstrate positive collaboration across multiple entities within our community,” said Dr. Anna Stubblefield, Superintendent of Schools.

“The death of Emmanuel Solomon impacted our entire community,” Stubblefield said. “The benefits of the Learn to Swim program provide our students with water safety skills that will stay with them for a lifetime.”

“The Y believes no child should drown because they never learned to swim,” said Garry Linn, senior vice president of operations for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. “We’re grateful to our partners to make sure that we can give kids in KCK the skills they need to safely enjoy the water throughout their lives.”

“This partnership comes at a perfect time for Parks and Recreation as we plan to enhance our programming,” said Angel Obert, director of Parks and Recreation for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City Kansas. “We look forward to seeing the program grow and how it will lay the foundation for future lifeguards and give opportunities for young people to use their skills to benefit their community.” 

The Unified Government plans to reopen Parkwood Pool this summer and will be hiring certified lifeguards to operate the pool. 

Dennis Williams, senior vice president of corporate affairs and corporate social responsibility for WarnerMedia, grew up in Kansas City, Kan.

“At WarnerMedia, we identify opportunities for the company to have meaningful impact in communities around the world. In this case, I have a firsthand understanding of how KCK organizations and our nonprofit partner, the Y, can join forces to effectuate meaningful change and save lives,” Williams said. “This is the beginning of a sustained partnership to make sure that not one more child drowns in the KCK community, and we will do everything we can to unite because drowning is preventable.”

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 for more information.


KCKPS is a nationally-recognized urban school district that is a model of excellence for other educational systems. We are the proud home to the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year, Whitney Morgan, an English language arts teacher at Wyandotte High School.

We are the largest school district in Wyandotte County and the fifth largest in the state of Kansas. Our diverse school district serves students in Pre-K through 12th grade. The student population of more than 22,000 students is made up of about 50% Hispanic, 29% African-American, 11% White, and 7% Asian. The vision of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools is to be one of the Top 10 School Districts in the Nation.

About Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City Kansas Parks and Recreation 

The mission of the Unified Government Parks and Recreation Department is to provide clean, safe facilities and well maintained green spaces for the public to enjoy. To make available recreation programming for youth, adults, seniors and our special needs population. To encourage partnerships and collaboration with other entities that will enable us to provide additional programming not otherwise available.

About WarnerMedia

WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. The organization also includes Xandr’s suite of advanced advertising solutions designed to help to improve advertising for brands, publishers, and consumers. WarnerMedia is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

KCK Learn to Swim Kickoff Event