ATLANTA (July 17, 2020) – Earlier this year, COVID-19 derailed the swimming and water-safety classes Atlanta nonprofit SwemKids provided in its effort to improve the statistic that nearly 7 out of 10 Black children do not know how to swim. With public pools throughout the metro area still closed, William Fogler, principal of Atlanta-based event design firm WM Events, has stepped in to provide a place for the lessons – his own backyard. 

By opening his home pool, which measures 24 by 40 feet, Fogler is ensuring that SwemKids will be able to continue its mission this summer and beyond. 

“Black kids are three times more likely to drown than white kids,” says Fogler. “Swimming is a life-saving skill, not just a recreation. I did not want the important work of SwemKids to be put on hold, especially while COVID-19 is making outdoor activities like swimming a top activity for families this summer.” 

SwemKids, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, provides swimming lessons and water-safety programs to children, typically free of charge as part of a school’s curriculum and with the help of community partners. The first cohort dove in during February of this year, but the organization’s efforts were halted in March. 

States with school-based swim programs have half the drowning rates of states that do not,” says SwemKids founder and CEO Trish P. Miller. “But there are three main obstacles for Black children learning how to swim. To decrease the disparity in drowning rates in the Black community, a swimming instruction program needs to be culturally relevant, and it must address access, cost and hair.” 

To tackle access to lessons and cost, SwemKids developed its in-school program that even provided transportation to and from the school and the pool. The lessons took place during an elective period of the school day, and participation was free for the school and the students. Thanks to a donation from Stitched Swim, so were the swimsuits.  

To eliminate the barrier of hair, SwemKids needed to innovate a solution that would keep it dry – completely dry. So Miller created a patent-pending swimming cap that can do just that. 

SwemKids also focuses on intentionally addressing cultural awareness and seeks to increase representation in the water among both students and instructors. 

This summer, SwemKids offers the same level of instruction, but for now, it takes place at Fogler’s home pool rather than a community center. Although the SwemKids swim school charges a fee for non-school-based lessons, Fogler has offered to provide scholarships when cost is an issue for children swimming outside of school. 

“We greatly appreciate William’s willingness to open his home to our students and instructors,” says Miller. “We want to eliminate every barrier that keeps Black children and their families from having healthy and safe relationship with the water.”

About WM Events

WM Events was founded in 2004 by award-winning designer, planner and consultant William Fogler. WM Events is a nationally recognized, full-service event planning and design firm based in Atlanta that specializes in corporate events, fundraisers, meetings, tradeshow design and private affairs. WM Events is located at 767 Trabert Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30318 and can be reached at 678-251-6363 or by visiting


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