Counting Kindness – RAPS

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) –  Leslie Paul is a longtime swim instructor and ten years ago she learned about the high drowning rates among the minority population. It resonated with her and she wanted to do something about it.

In 2007, Leslie created the RAPS program (Really Awesome People Swimming). Those who attend these free lessons usually have little or no experience in the water. RAPS is not just for kids either. Adults learn to swim too. As a matter of fact, a 62-year-old woman has signed on with Leslie and her team of instructors.

The program offers weekly sessions and for the first five years, Leslie funded the whole thing herself! Now, donations keep RAPS afloat and during the summer months, 7 weeks of classes take place.

They started this week. Leslie was able to partner up with the Timberlake Community Association in Virginia Beach as a home for RAPS.

So far, 350 children, teens and adults have signed up for lessons. There’s room for more! Leslie runs one to two sessions per week and keeps the instructor/student ratio at 1:6 so everyone learns as much as possible over the course of their week.

If you would like to learn about RAPS, maybe to sign-up, volunteer or donate, visit