A new program in Calgary is offering swimming lessons and a free lunch to underprivileged kids.

Makena Hind created Calgary Swims for Lunch to provide kids with swimming lessons and information on water safety, as well as a lunch at the end of every session.

“I noticed that a lot of the kids really want to learn how to swim and maybe were here all day, but didn’t come with a full lunch,” Hind told CTV News Channel. “I just really wanted to put something together this year that could target those kids.”

According to Hind, besides getting the food to feed the kids, her biggest challenge was getting funding and backing for the program. She pitched her idea to the Calgary Outdoor Pool Association and was given the Forest Lawn Outdoor Pool for three days a week to host the program.

Now that it’s up and running, Hind says the kids in the program have bonded with each other and the leaders, and a lot of the older kids have taken on leadership and mentorship responsibilities. She also said that the kids are being given the opportunity to perform different and interesting tasks, something that she believes is empowering them.

“They’re really enthusiastic and learning lifelong skills that they’ll be able to share with their siblings and also their parents,” said Hind.

Hind believes that a lot of other cities could look into running a similar program, especially where there are low-income areas and newcomers to Canada.

“They’re the areas that could benefit the most with drowning prevention and water safety,” said Hind. “The lunches are just a perk and it takes a lot of the strain off of the kids.”