The Kaw Lake Educational Foundation (KLEF) recently received a $1,000 gift from the Mark and Janice Sutton family. They are the son and daughter-in-law of KLEF President John Sutton.
The Kaw Lake Educational Foundation prepares and disseminates educational information regarding wildlife conservation, water safety, flood control and fishing and boating safety, with a focus on the Kaw Lake area in Kay and Osage Counties.
“We appreciate this generous donation from the Sutton family which makes possible the various programs of the KLEF,” said Kathy Tippin, KLEF secretary.
Organized in 2000, the organization was created to support and help raise funds for such programs either created by KLEF or the Kaw Lake Association. Each year KLEF helps with funding for the Ultimate Eagle Watch held the third Saturday in January and Kids Focus on Fishing held the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend.
Beginning in the fall of 2011, KLEF partnered with the Ponca City YMCA to fund free swimming lessons for area second graders starting with Lincoln Elementary.
In fall 2013 Phillips 66 brought the Make A Splash Program to Ponca City with appearances by Olympic swimmers Cullen Jones and Rowdy Gaines. This led to additional funding for the program through USA Swimming Foundation’s Make A Splash Program. Over the past six years the program has increased to the point that this school year lessons have been offered to second graders from four area elementary schools funded by KLEF.
“Our goal ultimately is to offer swim lessons to all second graders in Ponca City each year,” said John Sutton, KLEF president.
The program began with the KLEF wanting to promote drowning prevention. When the Ponca City YMCA agreed to run the program for the foundation it was decided to begin with Lincoln Elementary second graders as a pilot program.
Students spend the first week of lessons in the classroom reading and discussing what to expect upon visiting the Y.
Then the children are in the water for 30 minutes for each second grade class once a week. Students are evaluated by the swim instructors on their swimming ability.
“We are committed to providing $1000 of the funding for each Ponca City Public School’s second graders,” said Bill Rutz, KLEF board member. “KLEF would like to encourage other area businesses, especially those that are Partners in Education (PIE) partners to help with the funding for their schools second grades.”
Each year, more than 3,400 people drown in the U.S., including more than 700 children under the age of 14. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70 percent of African-Americans, 60 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of Caucasians do not know how to swim
“Learning to swim is the best thing anyone can do to be safe in and around water,” said Aquatics Director Stacie Hobbs
In addition to funding the swim lesson program the KLEF promotes water safety with a media campaign in the summer, collects life jackets to loan to people as part of the “”Save a Life” promotion, funds gifts for the annual Youth Hunt and is working with the Kaw Lake Association on plans for an Educational and Visitor’s Information Center to be constructed at the Kaw Lake Overlook area at the south end of Kaw Lake.
For more information phone 580-762-9494 or e-mail kawlake@cableone. Donations may be made payable to the Kaw Lake Educational Foundation, PO Box 1933, Ponca City, OK 74602. The Kaw Lake Educational Foundation is a 501c3 organization.
Members of the KLEF board include John Sutton, president; Brook Lindsay, vice-president; Kathy Tippin, secretary/treasurer; Laurence Beliel, Corbin DeWitt, Lindsay Grace, Bill Rutz and Debi Vap.
CONNER COLLISON catches a crappie during the annual Kids Focus on Fishing at Kaw Lake.