The Carey Family Brandon Boys & Girls Club recently held a clay shoot to raise funds so children from the club could take free swimming lessons at High 5, Inc. this summer. Eighty children took an eight-week swimming course at High 5, Inc.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America had its beginnings in 1860 as the Boys’ Club with three women in Hartford, Connecticut: Mary Goodwin, Alice Goodwin and Elizabeth Hammersley. Believing that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative, they organized the first club. With character development as the cornerstone of the experience, the club focused on capturing boys’ interests, improving their behavior and increasing their personal expectations and goals. A cause was born.

To recognize the fact that girls are a part of our cause, the national organization’s name was changed to Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 1990. Accordingly, Congress amended and renewed its charter.

The Carey Family Brandon Boys & Girls Club is our community’s local chapter, and it recently held a clay shoot to help raise funds for the club.

“Funds earned from the 2021 clay shoot allowed club members at the Carey Family Brandon Club to receive free swimming lessons at High 5, Inc.,” said Carey Family Brandon Club Director NaTasha McKeller. “The club members participated in eight weeks of swimming lessons that ran from the very first week of summer camp to the last week of summer camp. Eighty club members ranging from 5 years old to 16 years of age at the Carey Family Boys & Girls Club were able to experience swimming lessons that were geared specifically toward their swimming ability and skills and not their age or grade.”

Many of the children weren’t aware of the basic swimming safety, so these lessons were necessary to provide them with that safety knowledge.

“Each child received a swimming assessment on their first day of swimming to determine their skill level,” McKeller said. “This was completed to provide them with lessons based on their levels. Every child that participated moved up regardless of where they began, no longer fearful of water and the fear of drowning, learn to float, swimming speed, etc. I was beyond proud of students. To see them achieve their swimming goals was awesome.”

Ryan Odiorne is a member of the Carey Family Brandon Boys & Girls Club and help set up the swimming program with High 5, Inc.

“The club and, at the time BSAC, now High 5, Inc., realized the importance of learning how to swim since we live in Florida and are so close to the water,” Odiorne said. “I’m glad we can continue to raise the funds needed to send our kids for swimming lesson each year. We are truly saving lives with this program.”

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.