Hi, my name is Audrey Dobson, and I am the founder of the Swim for Change Project.
The idea for Swim for Change started in April of 2021 in church. God Spoke to me through the pastor as he said “If you’re not doing everything in your power to make a difference in this world, then you aren’t doing enough” I sat with that and decided that I was capable of doing so much more than I was. Over the next few weeks, the idea of Swim for Change was born. God gave me this mission, and he was with me every step of the planning process. By God’s grace Eibi Duarte was brought into my life through Silver Bear Swim School. Eibi is an incredible woman from Guatemala. She met with me and we began brainstorming on how we could make this dream a reality. She contacted her family in Guatemala, while I raised funds. Together, with the help of her cousin Paola Villatoro, my husband Caleb, and many donors and volunteers, we were able to raise over $14,000 and on September 25, 2021 we were off to La Antigua Guatemala!
In Guatemala we were able to work with a group of girls who were in a group home. All of the children we worked with were victims of sexual abuse. We were able to teach 50 girls ages 3-17 how to swim. We fed the children and volunteers for a week, and we learned their stories. These children have not had privileged lives. I soon realized we were doing so much more than just teaching some kids how to hold their breath and kick, we were teaching these children that they can trust others for the first time in their lives. We gave them confidence in themselves, and showed them that they have value and they are cared about. To say these children made an impact on me is an understatement.
Swimming is such a unique sport. To be able to learn how to swim you have to put yourself into a very vulnerable position, and trust that your coach will keep you safe. I think we were able to make the impact that we did because of this. These girls trusted that we would not only protect them, but that we would give them skills that would potentially save their lives, and let them have fun and be kids for the first time in their lives. Over the course of a week, we had 50% of kids swimming the length of an Olympic sized pool independently. We saw a boost in confidence and skill in every single one of the children.
We were able to return the following year and successfully taught 104 children in December of 2022. We were able to not only teach them the life saving skills of swim, but we fed them, gave them swimsuits, shirts, goggles and other swim essentials, and we showed them the love of God.
If you would like to be involved in the Swim for Change Project there are many ways to support!
Whether it’s through volunteering, being a donor, or sharing our story, you are making a huge impact on these children’s lives. Thank you for reading about my mission.