Meet Paulana Lamonier: Changing the Narrative on Black Swimming Ability

Drowning remains the leading cause of death for kids aged 1-4, and a staggering 64% of Black children cannot swim. In response to this alarming statistic, Paulana Lamonier, a New York City native, took action. Several years ago, she tweeted her desire to teach 30 Black children how to swim. The tweet went viral, prompting Lamonier to make a bold decision – she quit her job and launched ‘Black People Will Swim’, a full-time initiative aimed at teaching Black individuals to swim.

Since its inception, ‘Black People Will Swim’ has made significant strides. By the end of this year, Lamonier’s organization will have successfully taught 2,500 Black individuals to swim. This achievement is not only a testament to Lamonier’s dedication but also a reflection of the pressing need to address historical disparities in swimming proficiency among Black communities.

The stereotype that “Black people can’t swim” has persisted for decades, rooted in the segregation and privatization of swimming pools during the 1950s. These discriminatory practices made it increasingly challenging for Black individuals to access swimming facilities, perpetuating a cycle of limited opportunities for aquatic education.

However, Lamonier and ‘Black People Will Swim’ are on a mission to challenge this narrative. Through their efforts, they aim to empower Black children and adults alike to reclaim the water for themselves. By providing swimming lessons and fostering a supportive community, Lamonier and her team are breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for Black individuals to learn this vital life skill.

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In this week’s Stay Tuned, viewers will have the opportunity to meet Paulana Lamonier, her dedicated instructors, and the families and children involved in the ‘Black People Will Swim’ program. Through their stories, we gain insight into why swimming holds such significance for the Black community and the transformative impact of initiatives like Lamonier’s in challenging stereotypes and promoting inclusion in aquatic activities.

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