Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together on the Side of the Pool? Factors That Lead to Disparities in Swimming Participation
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Earlier research on drowning disparities between White and minority Americans suggest that embedded values can lead to lack of attention and access to aquatic activities. The purpose of this study was to identify advertising and outreach methods that attracted underrepresented families in two Midwestern cities to participate in swimming programs. The researcher investigated how cultural values, family values and media may lead to whether a family chooses swimming and where they choose to participate in lessons. The related literature of aquatics and youth sports does shed light on some of the values that may contribute to swimming participation. There is a long history of discriminatory practices related to swimming and water access in the United States. Economic and exclusivity barriers play a role in who swims and who does not. Media and outreach also affect what populations participate. What is missing is an understanding of these findings through the lens of a qualitative study. The present study used a qualitative research design involving open-ended interviews. This design was selected because quantitative studies have not been able to adequately answer how certain values might lead many African Americans to not learn to swim, and hence to drown at higher rates than their White peers. The participants were African American and mixed-race parents from medium-sized cities in northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. The results of this study point to three main approaches that could be utilized for communities to tackle the issue of swimming disparity. Ideas for further research are also discussed.