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GEHA partners with YMCA, Unified Government and Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools to provide 200 students with free swim lessons and equipment

GEHA | July 6, 2022

Public/private/nonprofit partnership supports health equity through water safety and aquatics access.

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (July 6, 2022) — GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.), through its industry focus on health and wellness benefits for its members and families, has a chronicled history of supporting its hometown's philanthropic needs around health equity for historically underserved audiences. As the summer approaches, with swimming and water activities being present and enticing for many, the importance of access and water safety's contribution to overall wellness provided a unique opportunity to impact change for Kansas City children.

Looking at root-cause barriers to health equity, segregation and generational traumas produced inaccessibility issues around water safety. The swimming ability of parents affect the likelihood that a child will learn how to swim, leading to Black and Brown children to have an exponentially higher risks for drowning. According to a 2017 USA Swimming Foundation study, 64% of Black children in the United States cannot swim and are almost six times more likely to drown in a swimming pool than white children. This convergence of history and circumstances led to the untimely drowning-related death of a young man at Kansas City, Kansas' Parkwood Pool in June 2021.

In an investment with the YMCA of Greater Kansas City and their "Learn to Swim" program with Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools and Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, GEHA provided funding for 200 students' summer swim lessons at Parkwood Pool, the only public swimming pool in Kansas City, Kansas. Focused on neighborhood elementary students who are geographically close to the pool, youth will be able to engage in one of two four-day sessions: July 11–14 and July 18–21. To further ease approachability to these trajectory-changing opportunities for wellness and safety, GEHA is providing each student with a new beach towel, along with new swimsuits, swim trunks, sunscreen, and swim goggles being provided to the YMCA of Greater Kansas City through a GEHA Gives employee donation campaign.

"Through our work with Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools over the past year, we have intentionally listened and learned about the dire health outcomes that affect students in our area," said Art Nizza, DSW, GEHA President and Chief Executive Officer. "Providing swim lessons creates change, but if a student cannot swim, they are not likely to own a swimsuit. Contributing these items as a part of our investment positively impacts the social determinants of health and wellness, as well."

"At the Y, we believe no child should drown because they never learned to swim," said Garry Linn, Senior Vice President of Operations for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. "We're grateful to GEHA and our partners to remove barriers to make sure that we can give kids in KCK the skills they need to safely enjoy the water."

Media partners are welcome to visit Parkwood Pool on Tuesday, July 12, at 11 a.m. Central time to experience the tenets of this partnership and interview students and representatives of the organizations.

GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.), founded in 1937, is a nonprofit member association and the largest dental and second largest medical benefit provider of federal employees exclusively serving 2 million current employees and retirees, military retirees and their families. GEHA's mission, to empower members to be healthy and well, is demonstrated through its focus on innovation as well as providing members with access to one of the largest medical provider networks nationwide. Headquartered in Lee's Summit, Missouri, GEHA is one of the largest employers in the Kansas City metro area. For more information, visit

KCKPS is the largest school district in Wyandotte County and the fifth largest in the state of Kansas. The diverse school district serves students in Pre-K through 12th grade. The student population of more than 21,000 students is made up of about 50% Hispanic, 29% African American, 11% White and 7% Asian. The vision of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools is to be one of the Top 10 School Districts in the Nation. For more information, visit

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, was formed by public ballot initiative in 1997. Representing the fourth most populous county in the state of Kansas, the Unified Government provides city and county services to nearly 165,000 residents across 156 square miles. For more information, visit

Driven by its founding mission, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community since 1860. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they're from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y's goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across communities. The Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Visit for more information.

Lisa Ketteler (GEHA) | 816.434.2508
Edwin Birch (KCKPS) | 913.279.2242
Ashley Z. Hand (Unified Government) | 913.573.5544
Paula Oxler (YMCA-KC) | 816.682.3168