Fourteen local students participated in a youth-led swimathon on Sunday, April 23 at Columbia Pool in North Portland. Sixth-grader Dylan Beckett organized the fundraising event, LAPS 4 LIFE Swim for the Climate, to raise awareness and to help combat climate change. To recruit swimmers, he presented in front of several classes at his school where he discussed climate change issues and asked students to sign up and help raise money. Most of the swimmers were from ACCESS Academy. The youngest participant was 8-years-old and the oldest 15.
All the swimmers leaped into the pool and started swimming at the same time. Parents and volunteers sat at one end of the pool tallying each lap. Prior to the event students gathered pledges from a combined total of 75 sponsors. The more laps each swimmer swam, the more money they raised. Some swam fast. Some swam at a more leisurely pace. Some chose a front crawl. Some a backstroke. Some went with the tried-and-true doggy paddle. All were there because they care about the future of this planet and wanted to help raise awareness about climate change. The final lap tally at the end of the ninety-minute swim was 443!
One participant, Ramona, who is especially concerned with the rapidly rising sea-levels as well as recent and severe changes in weather, said she likes to swim and thought the swimathon would be a good way to help get involved and make a difference. Ramona’s goal was to swim 25 laps, but she exceeded that by swimming a total of 35.
Matts, a 4th grader, decided to participate in the swimathon because he was upset about the recent presidential election. He recently started taking swim lessons and didn’t have a goal in mind for how many laps he wanted to complete, he just wanted to swim as many as possible during the time allowed.
Another participant, 9th grader Ian, said he signed up for the swimathon thanks to an invitation from a friend. He said climate change is important to him and he was glad to have the opportunity to support this event and 350PDX.
According to Catherine Beckett, Dylan’s mother, Dylan has always been a kid with no fear who enjoys reaching out to his peers and getting them involved in activities like this one. She said that originally he was worried by the things he was seeing on the news, but they were able to brainstorm together a constructive way to try and make a difference by organizing climate fundraising events. Dylan is happy with the turnout for this year’s event and thanks everyone who was able to participate.
Pledges are still being collected so if you are interested in supporting this youth-led climate action and 350PDX, donations can be made here.
Check out Dylan’s interview with KGW News.
Written by: Valerie Geary