The new SC Johnson Community Aquatic Center in our hometown community of Racine, Wisconsin, was funded by a $6.5 million donation from the company. It’s managed by the Racine Family YMCA and offers families affordable access to a wide variety of swimming lesson and water safety education programs.
But it’s not our first effort to help increase water safety. SC Johnson corporate philanthropy has paid for swimming lessons for all second graders in the Racine Unified School District since 2015. As a result, nearly 4,000 kids had already had swimming lessons when the new aquatic center opened in June of 2018.
Explained our Chairman and CEO, Fisk Johnson, at the opening celebration, “To me, swimming is not just about fun. It's about family. It's about building social relationships. It's about the freedom of the outdoors. And I think that sense of freedom and confidence that swimming brings is so important to young kids. And it's something that can carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
At the opening of the SC Johnson Community Aquatic Center, city and company leaders were joined by U.S. Olympic swimmer and four-time medalist Cullen Jones. He shared his own perspective on the importance of swimming lessons.
Jones explained how after winning an Olympic gold medal in 2008, a friend shared with him the drowning statistics of the United States. "At that point, 70% of African Americans didn't know how to swim, 60% of Latin Americans didn't know how to swim and 40% of Caucasians didn't know how to swim,” he said.
Having nearly drowned himself as a child, this wasn’t a surprise. But the chance to become an advocate for change was inspiring: “This is a problem across the country. But here's the craziest part – we have the solution to it: Swim lessons!”
Along with his continuing swimming career, Jones now dedicates a great deal of time to promoting swimming lessons for kids – including helping SC Johnson celebrate the aquatic center opening.
He said in the : "Competence around water doesn't always come naturally. But with swim lessons and a safe pool to practice in, anyone can become a more confident swimmer. The new SC Johnson Community Aquatic Center will provide Racine-area youth a place where they can hone their swimming skills and embrace safety around water."
For us at SC Johnson, if it saves one life, it will be worth it. But we hope it will do even more, bringing a fun, safe and healthy opportunity to families in our community for years to come.