Leigha Coates, 23, is preparing to create an impact and change for the youth within the Philadelphia communities for upcoming Summer 2017. Every year from June to mid- August, Leigha sits poolside while the blazing sun rays tans her warm toned skin to watch over young children at a local Philadelphia neighborhood pool. As she sits high in one of those tall white lifeguard chairs she may be considered the eyes and ears for this neighborhood pool. While seeing children on a daily during these summer months has inspired Ms. Coates to begin a mentoring program (Just Keep Swimming). She will not only be a lifeguard this year, but as well a teacher, provider, and confidant to these young children.
When Leigha explained her passion behind starting a program to mentor young kids, she said, “Working as a lifeguard for 3-4 years I’ve seen a lot of kids who didn’t know how to swim or have people watching them, so I figured I start a program to basically help kids learn to swim.”
While Leigha is still a student herself, attending Bloomsburg University, majoring in Business Management/Marketing with an Economics minor. She applies the knowledge from her studies to brand and market this program as a nonprofit organization.
The “Just Keep Swimming” program is scheduled to start June 26, 2017, mentoring children from ages 5-14. The group of children and mentors will meet twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays 4 p.m.-6p.m. and during the six-week program children will learn to swim along with learning other valuable skills for children to acquire at these sweet tender ages.
As a lifeguard, Leigha begun to personally know many of the children attending the pool. She said she started to realize not only did they lack swimming skills, but simple knowledge about college, different opportunities, and nobody was giving them advice.
Leigha started swimming at a young age for recreational purposes only, and she began by teaching herself the ways of the water. But it wasn’t until 4-5 years ago when Leigha decided that she wanted a summer job as a lifeguard, and began intense training lessons to improve her skills to save lives.
Ms. Coates may be starting small this summer, but she’s already planning for following years if everything goes accordingly for the upcoming year. In hopes to eventually move her program to five different recreational centers and pools in the Philadelphia areas. But for June 2017, the “Just Keep Swimming” program will be located at 26 and South. Philadelphia, Pa, with head mentor Leigha Coates and other young adults guiding children along their paths.