Cameron Balkom is the founder of Suit Up, a nonprofit student organization in Houston, Texas. She created this opportunity with local support to reduce the risk of childhood drowning. What started out as a project for her entrepreneurship class ended up becoming a life changing mission.
“My original idea was to sell swimsuits and have the money go towards paying for swim lessons, but we ended up getting free swim lessons and donated swimsuits,” Balkom describes.
The donated swimsuits were provided by The Lifeguard Store, and it was all coordinated through Aimee Schmitt, a sales representative for the company. About twelve children were donated swimsuits from The Lifeguard Store’s private label, Rise Aquatics. From working with other local groups, Suit Up could also provide the kids with towels, swim caps, and goggles. The local YMCA opened their facility for the free swim lessons in addition to providing certified instructors.
“Just getting to see the kids jump in the pool, laughing and smiling, and knowing that we gave them the opportunity to do this whether they continue to swim, and it turns into something later on for them in life; or if we just provided a good experience at this age is what it’s all about, “Balkom adds.
Being on the University of Houston swim team herself, the passion for the sport was what lead her to creating the nonprofit in the first place. Generation One is an trans-denominational ministry in Houston that connected Suit Up with children to participate in the free-swimming lessons. Most of the lessons focused on life saving skills; teaching the children how to jump in and get back to the wall if they were ever in a life-threatening situation. Something as simple as swim lessons can reduce the risk of childhood drowning by 88%.
At this moment in time, Cameron Balkom is at a crossroads point with the organization she started. “Class is over, but I feel like I started this, so I can’t just stop,” Cameron explains, “I really do think that it’s something I’d like to do for the rest of my life.” She plans on continuing to work with the University of Houston and with the connections she has already made.
With so much to offer, there is a bright future for Suit Up to make an impact in the swimming world for at-risk children.
Press Release courtesy of Swim Shops of the Southwest.