Free swim—pool scholarships get kids in water 

This is the fifth year Charlottesville native Darnell Lamont Walker has raised money for pool scholarships.

Ron Paris This is the fifth year Charlottesville native Darnell Lamont Walker has raised money for pool scholarships. Ron Paris

Darnell Lamont Walker was surprised when he went to Washington Park Pool in 2013 and it cost $6 to get in. “I remember when it was 50 cents,” he says.

Since then, Walker, who now lives in New York and is a writer for “Sesame Street,” has been raising money to send kids to Charlottesville’s public pools.

“Lots of parents can’t afford $6 or $29,” which is the amount a summer pass costs a city student, he says. Last year, he got enough contributions to buy pool passes for about 150 people, and he wants to buy at least 100 this year. At press time, Walker has raised $1,758 on GoFundMe and was asking anyone who needed a pass to contact him on the Facebook group Charlottesville Swims.

The city offers pool scholarships on a sliding scale up to 90 percent, which means an eligible student could get a summer pass for $2.90, and a family with two adults and three students could get five passes for $17.80 total, according to parks and rec director Brian Daly.

Currently, 575 households are enrolled in the scholarship program, which makes them eligible for parks and rec classes and activities, and 315 individuals in the program have summer pool passes, says Daly.

Walker says his group is buying passes this week. “Families who contact us, we’ll deliver the passes to
Jefferson School, their homes or at the park.”

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