Swimming is arguably one of the most essential and potentially lifesaving skills to learn, but lessons are not readily accessible for everyone. Fortunately, the caring and courageous instructors at Seastars Aquatics provide free, year-round inclusive instruction through an incentive-based swim team and mentoring program to special-needs children who live below the poverty line, the only such program in the entire United States. “The Seastars program introduces swimming to children who might otherwise be unable to participate,” says Executive Director, Co-founder and Head Coach Robin Heller. Aside from promoting health and safety, cultivating a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem for participants is one of their primary goals. “Seastars is an empowering and supportive extended family, helping swimmers develop confidence and social skills, make friendships and enjoy social interaction they would not have otherwise.” Heller and her staff exude passion for the Seastars mission. “We could have changed who we are to align better for grants, but it would change who and what we are,” she says. “We have stuck to our guns.” 5425 Hibiscus Road, www.seastarsaquatics.org
PENSACOLA, Florida, September 25. The West Florida Argonaut swim team recently took a quick trip to SEASTARS Aquatics in their home town of Pensacola to lend a helping hand. With head coach Andrew Hancock leading the way, the Argonauts had a fun day at the pool. For a quick refresher, SEASTARS Aquatics is a free swim team for underprivileged and disabled youths in Pensacola. Head coach Robin Heller was on the Morning Swim Show with host Jeff Commings a year ago to talk about the origins of the team, and why Pensacola was chosen as the place to start a team that would target minorities on free and reduced-lunch programs in school. She also talked about the classroom improvements the swimmers have made, attributing their good grades in part to their participation in swimming.
Here’s a link to Swimming World Magazine’s article and to two videos: One of UWF’s time with the SEASTARS, the other Coach Robin’s interview from last years Morning Show with Jeff Commings