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"How many of you guys like being in the water?"

That's what two-time Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones usually asks a group of squealing, excited kids in bathing suits at pools around the country. Millions of kids will jump in a pool on a hot summer day. But, summertime fun shouldn't come at the expense of safety. Jones and the USA Swimming Foundation want to make sure it's a safe experience for everyone.


Photo by Mike Lewis/USA Swimming Foundation.

In the summer of 2018, the USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative is sending more than 1 million kids to the pool to learn to swim, and they're doing it to reach families and kids who might not otherwise have access to lessons

According to research from Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, formal swimming lessons reduces the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%.

Make a Splash is working to make swimming lessons accessible for everyone by offering free or low-cost swim lessons. Research shows that 87% of swimmers with little or no ability have plans to go to a swimming facility this summer at least once, and 34% plan to go 10 or more times. Even more concerning, drowning is a top cause of unintentional death for all children under age 14 both in the U.S. and globally. But, the Make a Splash team is working to reduce those numbers.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Palais Princier de Monaco.

For 12 years, through the Make a Splash initiative, the USA Swimming Foundation has partnered with learn-to-swim providers in all 50 states, offering low-cost or free swimming lessons and educating more than 6 million children and their families on the importance of learning to swim. The initiative's mission strikes a chord for Jones personally, which is why he's devoted nine years to being an ambassador for the program.

"I've gotta say, it's gotta be the kids, and watching them and their evolution as they blow bubbles for the first time or go underwater for the first time, and watching them breaks those barriers," Jones says. "I think that's been not only the reason that I stayed true to this initiative but also why I've continued to swim for as long as I have."

Jones loved being in the water at an early age even though he couldn't swim.

A trip to a water park changed his life forever. Jones flipped over in an inner tube in the water, and while he ultimately was unharmed, it was enough to push his mom to immediately put him in swimming lessons. I think it's safe to say that Jones learned how to swim well — and then some.

"I feel very close to the mission statement when it comes to saving lives and when I see that those giant statistics are still as bad as they are, even though we've seen some of them get better, I still know that I could've been one of those numbers. And I think that's what still drives me."

Photo by Martin Bureau/AFP/GettyImages.

Though Jones didn't expect his swim lessons to lead to a career as a professional swimmer, he's immensely grateful for the chance to help other kids learn to swim, particularly those who are historically underrepresented at the pool.

In 2010, approximately 70% of black kids and 60% of Latino kids had little or no swimming ability, compared with 42% of their white peers. Thankfully, those numbers have steadily improved. Currently, those percentages have dropped to 64% and 45%, a reduction Jones thinks is due in large part to a changing narrative around the importance of learning to swim.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

"There's always been a stigma that black people don't swim. It's been a running joke in our culture," says Jones. "It's also something that we have accepted as a culture. And I think that that's why these lessons are so important because you're changing the perception of a culture."

"You never know what can happen, but it's better to teach your child how to be safer on the water, than to limit them." Jones says. "Let your child be successful around water because your child's going to want to be around water. Especially now because it's hot. Every single place that I say to the kids, 'How do you like being in the water now?' and every hand shoots up in the air. It's important that we teach them how to be safer around that water."

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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