Stories of our connected and rapidly changing region.


Learning To Love The Water: Teaching Resettled Refugees Swimming Safety

Students from Lynda Siegel’s ESL class are learning water safety through a free course at the Greater Burlington YMCA. Photo courtesy Doug Bishop / Greater Burlington YMCA

Many children who come to Vermont as refugees are from cultures where swimming isn’t practiced. That could be for religious guidelines that necessitate that bodies remain covered, or it could be that open water is simply too dangerous:

“When I first started working with the Somali Bantu population, those students would say to me, ‘we never went near the water because there were crocodiles,’” Lynda Siegel teaches ESL students at Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington.

That’s why a water safety program at the Greater Burlington YMCA has been teaching New American children how to be safe — and have fun — in the water.

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