Aquatics advocates donate to parks department

Members of Friends of Louisa Aquatics with parks director James Smith. 

Friends of Louisa County Aquatics recently made a donation to help pay for need-based scholarships and classes for people with disabilities at the Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center pool facility.

The $8,300 gift to the Louisa County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department comes from money the nonprofit group had raised toward enclosing one of the pools for year-round use. That project’s future is uncertain, as the Louisa County Board of Supervisors removed it from the capital improvement plan in 2020. Supervisor Willie Gentry (Cuckoo District) said at the board’s Dec. 21 meeting he’d like to see the pool back in the plan.

The money will be targeted for need-based scholarships for lifeguards; swim and aquatic exercise lessons; and entrance fees, as well as adaptive aquatics programs for individuals with disabilities.

“We’re very interested in enabling individuals with autism to have access to the pool,” said Friends treasurer Laurie Dalton. 

“We’d like to help pay for a coach to teach them what to do if they get into trouble in a pool or lake. They’re really drawn to water — it gives them a sense of peace.”

The Friends’ donation can also pay for disabled veterans to have designated time in the pool. The group left it up to the parks department to determine how to distribute the funds.

Through conversations with James Smith, parks and recreation director, Dalton’s group found out that it costs $300 for a young person to be certified as a lifeguard. The department pays half the cost for successful program completion, Dalton said, and she’d like to see the other half covered too.

Most of the donations the Friends received were very small, demonstrating the significant interest the pool enclosure generated in the community. The group did receive $2,000 from Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, which operates a power plant in Gordonsville, and $1,000 from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

“We feel our goal of raising awareness was met and we wanted to distribute the money that was there,” Dalton said.


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