Ascension Parish twins Torrence and Thurman Thomas - The Thomas Brothers - are once again giving back to their hometown in a big way, by offering free swimming lessons to low income children in the area.
The lessons are being offered through their 501 (c)(3) program, Tankproof, which began six years ago through partnerships with church organizations to coordinate the program at Crawfish Aquatics in Baton Rouge.
After much research, the duo decided that the way to give back to their community would be to teach low income children to swim, as 70 percent of African-American and minority children don’t know how to swim, according to a study sponsored by USA Swimming. In the United States, 10 people drown daily, with at least two of those victims being children.
"Our mission is to give underserved kids the gift of swimming," Torrence said. "We feel like swimming is a life skill and through swimming we will be able to build confidence not only in the individuals, but through the individuals and to the rest of our community locally here in Gonzales. We fee like it is an essential life skill that needs to be offered to these kids. If they can't afford it themselves we will provide them the opportunity."
The two-week session will be offered in Gonzales at the Jambalaya Park Pool from July 24-27 and July 31- Aug. 3 from 8:15- 9:45 a.m. for children five and up. Last year the program saw around 40 children from Ascension, though the Thomas Brothers are confident the numbers will be higher this year.
"Our goal for each young person is to give them a broad understanding of water safety and precautionary measures, while at the same time aiming for them to attain a foundational level of skill and comfort in the water. If they were to ever find themselves in a danger, our hope is that we properly equipped them to save themselves," reads their website.
This program is made possible through private donations and the brothers are still in need for more donations for the Gonzales sessions in order to continue to make the experience special for the children, he added.
To date, Tankproof has served over 1,100 youths throughout Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Alexandria and Tensas Parishes.
For more information about this program, or to register, visit tankproof.org