Learning the basics of swimming and water safety can be essential skills for children and adults. And it can’t be taken for granted that any one person has learned them.

That’s why the Jack and Jill of America’s Southbelt Houston Chapter donation of $3,978 to the Lake Jackson Swim Lesson Scholarship program is such a great idea and worthy cause. The program provides scholarships for swimming lessons to children based on household income, receipt of free or reduced school lunches and numerous other factors.

Jack and Jill is an organization for women who have children ages 2 to 19, and it is the oldest African-American organization in the United States, established in 1938.

Water safety is important to the group for two reasons, Program Director Melanie Louis said.

The group had a young member die from an accidental drowning, she said, and a large percentage of African-American children don’t know how to swim. That is for a variety of reasons, such as children not having a swimming pool in their neighborhood or parents not being able to afford lessons, she said.

As Robin Brant, assistant parks and recreation director for Lake Jackson, points out, swimming is a lot more than a form of recreation, and with this area surrounded by water, knowing the skill can be critical.

“Swim lessons save lives,” she said. “Water safety is really important for us here.”


Brazoria Legion post gives respect to flags

Honoring the flag involves a lot more than salutes and hands held over hearts during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

It also involves making sure the flag is properly laid to rest when its usefulness has been exhausted.

A community effort has led to residents ensuring worn American flags are properly disposed in Brazoria at a fire pit donated to American Legion Post 561.

Twenty-four flags were ceremonially retired recently as Legion members and residents stood by to view the first of many ceremonies in the city, Post Adjutant Robert Rab said.

“It all started when there was nowhere to retire flags at,” Brazoria City Council member and business owner Rochelle Hicks said. “We were collecting flags and we had no outlet to retire them in. All these other towns had permanent pits … and I thought, what better place than for Brazoria to have one?”

The American flag really represents a lot to us, and it goes beyond the symbolism. Giving these banners a proper sendoff is the least we can do.

Hicks said she hopes Brazoria’s effort to retire the flags, and burn them when their time has come, will inspire future generations.

“I just thought we need to be teaching these kids about honor and respect,” she said. “It’s been a two-year and three-year-long project. … I hope it brings some patriotism to the new generation of kids.”


Ohio shames runner for wearing hijab

Perhaps one of the main attractions of distance running is the sense of personal freedom the competitor feels when he or she takes to the hills, pavement or whichever the terrain might be.

So imagine the humiliation Noor Abukaram felt when she was recently disqualified from a cross country meet in Ohio, after posting her best time of the season, because she didn’t have a waiver allowing her to wear a hijab during her race.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s rulebook doesn’t specifically mention hijabs but does ban most head coverings and caps. It also says anyone requiring an exception because of religious or other reasons must get a waiver. Thus the disqualification.

But basically we’re just talking about a hat. Dave Wottle won the 800 meters at the 1972 Summer Olympics while sporting a golf cap, and nobody was seriously offended. We doubt Abukaram’s competition felt seriously threatened by her headgear. And you can even purchase a hijab bearing a Nike swoosh to really make it look like you “belong.”

The good part, we guess, is that a week after being disqualified over her hijab, Abukuram finished the season by again posting her personal-best time, after receiving the waiver. And the association that oversees high school sports in Ohio now says it’s looking at dropping the rule requiring waivers for religious head coverings.

But why does this have to happen after the ill-advised fact?

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(1) entry


If the hijab afforded her no advantage, they should have let her run. They should be grateful she wasn't a he identifying as a she.

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