Stages of Freedom hosts Public Forum to move forward with a new Pool for Providence

Stages of Freedom is working on a major project to build a year-round public swimming pool for the people of Providence. With too few pools and the fact that most are open for only 5-6 weeks out of the year, and some with restricted hours, this leaves children unable to learn to swim – and therefore at risk from drowning. Ray Rickman, of Stages of Freedom, says “this is a needless tragedy that has been on the rise in our state.”

Stages will be hosting a public forum on Thursday, August 17th at 5:30pm at the First Unitarian Church on Benefit Street in Providence. They are inviting all interested in learning more and supporting the Providence Pool Project to attend.

To sign up for the free event – go here:

Stages of Freedom’s pool plans follow years of facilitating children learning to swim. Stages of Freedom is a nonprofit organization in Providence focused on raising funds and promoting the importance of learning to swim for all, and particularly for children of color. They have sponsored FREE lessons for thousands of children from throughout Rhode Island.


Rickman said, “We are excited to get this project started and hope it will improve people’s lives, especially those of children that we can teach how to swim.”

Rickman’s group announced the new plans in July.

Stages of Freedom’s programs include “Swim Empowerment“. They subsidize swimming lessons at the following “Y’s”, as space allows:

This year their goal has been to teach 400 children to swim. According to Stages of Freedom, “We believe that in order to reintroduce swimming into African American communities, it is important to begin with children.

Every year, Stages of Freedom provides the funds for an increasing number of RI youth of color to take FREE swimming lessons through 7 partnering YMCAs. Last year, Stages put 311 children in swimming lessons.

Swim Empowerment exploded into activity in Rhode Island after the publishing of its 2013 report, “Removing Barriers to Swimming Proficiency in the Rhode Island African American Community – A Model for the Nation“.

To join the mailing list, learn more, or donate, contact Ray Rickman at:



  1. Kate on August 16, 2023 at 2:06 pm

    I personally think that you should add a toddler area- it’s not a pool; rather a splash pad area where smaller children are only in 1″ of water and little sprouts; fountain or spray – type streams of water emerge. They have one at Davis farmland. (Sterling Massachusetts) Here is a link to the site ……

    It’s nice that smaller children can interact and have fun without the worry of deeper pools…. Just a thought!
    The families deserve this!!!! I LOVE this idea!

  2. Lesley Maxwell on August 13, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    This is an excellent program being done by Stages of Freedom and Mr. Rickman. They see a need and are taking steps to address it. People should know how to swim. It may save their life or that of someone else. It’s wonderful exercise for young and old and it’s a fun way to get that.
    As a Cranston resident, I applaud the effort. We have an Olympic-sized pool that hasn’t been open since 2019. The pandemic kept it closed but last summer, we suffered through the heat (which was unbearable) with no pool and no reason from anyone as to why. We’ve just gone through another summer with no pool. For many, it’s unaffordable to head to the beach, not to mention time-consuming with traffic. Right here, in the heart of Cranston, is a huge and lovely pool, enjoyed by generations of people but are being told, after the fact, that there is not going to be a Budlong Pool of old. It will be for toddlers and cost at least twice as much to redesign as to renovate the older pool. There is no mention of swimming lessons which our kids (and some adults) need.
    If the Cranston administration wants to spend an enormous amount of money for their redesign, the money would be better spent following Stages of Freedom’s lead. Clean it up and make it a year-round pool.
    Unfortunately, the administration refuses to listen to the citizens. We are told after anything is signed, sealed and delivered. I thought I lived in a democracy but it doesn’t seem to apply.

  3. Susan Blake on August 13, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    I think that this project deserves all of our support as it addresses racial inequalities in swimming skills due to lack of larger pools in urban areas, as well as a city-wide need for such a facility. As a resident of Cranston, I wish our city government would take a page from your book of foresight and listening to what the community wants and needs. Instead, our city leaders have contrived a shallow mini-kiddie-water-park type of monstrosity that is supposed to replace one of the largest outdoor municipal pools in the nation.