Atlanta’s Water Boys

Atlanta’s “Water Boys” – you have seen them at an Atlanta intersection selling water bottles.
Whether you support their entrepreneurial spirit or consider them a nuisance, there is a negative
stigma attached to the hustle and major safety concerns for the youth and drivers alike.
Recently, the City of Atlanta has begun working on passing legislation to help get the youth off
of the streets and into programs that help foster growth, teach different skill sets and put money
into their pockets and their communities.

SwemKids plans to be a part of the solution!

As an American Red Cross Learning and Training Provider, SwemKids has partnered with the
City of Atlanta’s Offices of Diversity and Economic Impact and the Helping to Empower Youth!
(HEY!) program to provide swimming instruction, Lifeguard training and certification to Atlanta’s
“Water Boys”.

During a four month program, these young men will be equipped with the skills to be safe in and
around the water. They will strengthen and perfect their swimming skills, and learn how to save
a life in and out of the water. At the close of this program, each young man will be certified in
First AID/CPR and will be a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard.

We currently have a pilot program of 10 youth and will certify 125 young men this year. We have
received commitment from the City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation to hire these qualified
young men as Lifeguards so that they no longer have to sell water on the streets, giving new life
to the phrase “Water Boys”!

Many youth, specifically, Black and Brown youth, do not seek positions in the aquatics related
fields. There are many factors which contribute to this state, however, with education, increased
awareness, intentionality and recruitment we are confident that we can increase diversity in
these fields and provide additional economic opportunities for these youth. Many of these
positions pay an average of $15 per hour which is nearly three times the state minimum wage.

Representation in aquatics is important in order to increase participation and diversity.
Intentionally increasing the number of Black and brown lifeguards and swimming instructors will
be a step in the right direction to close the gap of non-swimmers and reduce the rates of
drowning in black and brown communities.

Please visit to learn more!