Why Parks Matter to Carl Isom-McDaniel

Welcome back to this week’s blog post! Today we have a personal park memory to share from CVPRD commissioner Carl Isom-McDaniel.

When Carl was a young child, around four or five, he remembers a park on Cottage Lake where he would take swimming lessons every summer. He knew that when he got older, he would have to dive off the high board at the end of the dock to be cleared to swim past the buoy line. He was intimidated by the thought but still looked forward to the day he could swim past the buoy line.

Carl and his brothers and sister would take 3-week swimming lessons during the summer. He thinks fondly of how his mother gave the children a dime to purchase penny candies after their lesson. Each time, Carl chose red licorice.

Determined to reach his swim goal, Carl was dedicated to his swimming lessons. When he was four years old, he learned how to float. By the time he was five, he had learned how to dog paddle and swim underwater. He remembers how difficult the lessons were, but also how rewarding it was to learn a new skill that he was proud of. He shared that his brothers and sister felt the same way about learning new skills from swimming lessons.

Since Carl was the oldest, he remembers how he would always have to learn things first, but he would always help his younger siblings with their lessons. Looking back, Carl realizes how great it was to help his siblings because he was learning more about swimming and strengthening his own skills.

After years of swim lessons at the park, when Carl was eleven, it was time for him to dive off the high board. Even though Carl had taken years of swimming lessons at this point, the dive was still intimidating. After some encouragement from his swim teachers and comfort knowing the lifeguard was on watch, Carl made the dive. From that moment on, Carl was cleared to swim past the buoy line.

Carl’s family moved the following year, and Carl has not swum at Cottage Lake since. However, Carl has and always will take the lessons and memories he made at the park. Setting goals, staying determined, achieving goals, and helping others along the way are great learning experiences that all children deserve.

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