April 18th, 2024

New program provides barrier-free swimming for females


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Sport Council has partnered with Recreation Excellence Lethbridge and Lethbridge Family Services Immigrant Services to create a women and girls only swim program.

Community coordinator, Sports for All with Lethbridge Sport Council, Keegan Brantner spoke to the Herald recently and said the program will provide a safe and designated space for women and girls to swim without the presence of man or boys older than five years old.

“We realized there was actually no sanctioned programming for people who maybe have cultural, religious, trauma or other personal reasons for not being able to participate in traditional or mixed gendered sports,” said Brantner.

 She said based on feedback received from many newcomers, they were interested in swimming, and therefore the decision was made to create the swimming program.

“The program will be open to those who identify as women as well, considering the safety and comfort of everyone involved. If mal-intent in attending the sessions is identified, people will be asked to leave,” said Brantner.

She said they want to make sure they are providing a safe environment for women and girls to be able to participate in active recreation, an opportunity to swim or to learn how to swim, where they may not otherwise be able to do so.

“Our target audience is towards those new to Canada, but we want it to be open to any women and girls who are interested in coming, as well. We want to provide them with an opportunity to swim without having those barriers that currently exist for them,” said Brantner.

She said ultimately the goal is to build the confidence and competence in the women and girls to then attend a regular open swim, or mixed gender swimming if they are interested, or if their culture and beliefs allow it.

Brantner said one of the barriers many face is the cost. And in order to help those who are unable to afford the program they are receiving funding.

“We were able to apply for a grant through Makadiff Sports, which will support the first 35 participants for each session for an entire year,” said Brantner.

 She said the sessions will take place on the last Friday of every month, and for those arriving after the first 35 participants, there will be a $4 fee with children under three years old being able to attend for free.

The Women and Girls Only swimming program runs the last Friday of every month from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Stan Siwik Family Swimming Pool.

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