When Detroit PAL partnered with United Way no one really knew the impact this type of program could have on the students. But it was apparent that the nearly 50 percent graduation drop-out rate was incredibly high and needed to be tackled. With a mind frame of increasing graduation rates, United Way and Detroit PAL ushered in several athletic programs to attract students to stay in school. One of those initiatives is the Harper Woods Swim Program.
United Way is an organization that prides itself on uplifting individuals, families and communities. They seek to achieve these goals through education, promoting healthy lifestyles and assisting financially. United Ways Harper Woods Swim Program, accomplishes this through encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Chris Clough, who is the Associate Athletic Director for Detroit PAL, works alongside United Way and the Harper Woods Swim Program. This program is in its third year and is seeing major results. When asked about the students in the swim program, Clough stated, “Most had no experience in swimming… its gone from a club program to an actual competition.” He also acknowledges how the swim program is about much more than just swimming, “it’s mentoring and tutoring, we help them excel at life.” Clough, Detroit PAL and United Way all understand that in order to help encourage the students and multiply graduation rates, extracurricular activities and mentorship is critical.
Of course the Harper Woods Swim program and similar programs would not function if it were not for the endless help from coaches, volunteers and parents. Coach Mike, Coach Gore and Coach Lanita all work extremely hard on developing youngsters in becoming better students and better people in general. “The kids learn dedication, teamwork following directions, and maturity” stated Coach Mike. The parents of the swimmers seem to love the program and its coaches. Tahirah Shakur, mother of 12 year old swimmer, Inaya Shakur said “They are just so positive, I just love them” as it related to the coaches. Other parents echoed this sentiment, saying how the program keeps children out of trouble and keeps them in shape. All in all, this program benefits everyone involved.
With the help of Detroit PAL and United Way, students are now afforded new opportunities The Harper Woods Swim Program allows for it’s members to not only excel in swimming, but to excel at life!