MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There have been at least 15 drownings in Minnesota already this year and the racial disparity is significant.
The Center for Disease Control says Black children and teenagers drown in swimming pools at five and a half times the rate of their white counterparts.READ MORE: Mayo Clinic To Now Also Require Workers Be Vaccinated
A Minneapolis non-profit is hoping to change that statistic. V3 Sports Center bought the vacant building on Plymouth and Lyndale Ave in north Minneapolis in 2017. Their plan is to build a sports center with a 50-meter Olympic size pool and a 25-yard teaching pool to hold swimming lessons.
Their goal is to create enthusiasm around learning to swim and to make lessons accessible. It’s located in north Minneapolis within a richly diverse neighborhood. The cost of swimming lessons are on a sliding scale based on household income.
“This creates the momentum,” said Issac DeSouza with the V3 Sports Center team, “This is more of a lifesaving skill than just a sport.”
On June 4, a 12-year-old boy died after drowning in the North Commons Water Park, located just a mile away from the future V3 sports center.READ MORE: 4 Men Arrested Amid Investigation Into Duluth Shootings
“It’s just terrifying because this shouldn’t be happening. It’s an epidemic that can be solved easily and having the pool here will help with that,” said DeSouza.
Right now, V3’s pool is in Omaha, Nebraska for the Tokyo Summer Olympics swimming trials. As soon as the trials are over, the pool will be disassembled and shipped to north Minneapolis. The groundbreaking is expected to happen this fall.
They hope this pool will make swimming lessons a priority for everyone, including adults.
“One day they could save a life, save a family member and once you learn – you can teach other people too,” said DeSouza.
V3 is a non-profit committed to increasing health and wellness equity, decreasing drowning disparities, and addressing historical racism and segregation.MORE NEWS: Mayo Clinic Remains Nation's Top-Ranked Hospital
They are currently raising funds for the construction costs. If you’d like to donate to the project, click here.