The ACE Center at Hermitage and SwimRVA Collaborating to Build a Stronger Workforce in Richmond

January 21, 2022 Posted by SwimRVA


One of the biggest questions that a lot of high school students get asked is: What are you going to do when you graduate? Perhaps a better question is: Do you have the skills you need to be successful? 

The Advanced Career Education (ACE) Center at Hermitage drives to help students get the head start that they need on acquiring those skills. An extension of the nine Henrico County Schools, the ACE Center allows students to explore their interests and gain training in their aspired career fields. 

The ACE Center joined forces with SwimRVA three years ago, collaborating with the SwimRVA Safety School. “There are a bunch of kids in Henrico County that have never had the opportunity to learn to swim,” stated ACE sports medicine teacher Bobi Southard. There is currently a lifeguard shortage in Richmond, Virginia that both SwimRVA and the ACE Center are actively trying to combat. Emphasizing the importance of safety for everyone involved in aquatics will ensure that more people are learning how to swim in a safe environment. 

Both the ACE Center and SwimRVA share the core mission of workforce development. Programs such as the ones that the ACE Center has provided opportunities for young people who are interested in careers with sports or aquatic focus and allow them to practice the skills they need to succeed. Giving ACE students opportunities to learn lifeguarding skills will enhance their abilities in multiple professions within fields such as sports medicine.

Many of the students enrolled at the ACE Center are interested in exploring their opportunities in sports medicine. In this profession, knowing how to save their own and someone else’s life in the water is crucial to their experience. One of the skills taught in this program, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), is invaluable not only in this field but also as a general life skill. Thanks to the ACE Center and SwimRVA, these students are being equipped with the safety knowledge necessary for their futures. 

Kyla Branby has benefited greatly from her time at the ACE Center, which has helped her determine her career goals. “I heard ‘sports medicine,’ and I’m an athlete, so I immediately said, ‘That’s where I want to be,’” she said when asked what drew her to the ACE Center. As a student-athlete, Kyla knew even before she enrolled in the ACE Center that she wanted her career to revolve around sports in some way. Her current goal is to become an athletic trainer, and she plans to apply the skills she learns at the ACE Center in pursuit of her future career. 

Gaining experience in swimming benefits athletes even if swimming is not their primary sport. “Every time I think of swimming and I think of my sport, I think of resistance training. I’m a track runner, and that’s perfect for us, especially for sprints and calming the body,” said Kyla. Students like Kyla have the opportunity to use this program for education as well as their own training.

The ACE Center is a space where you can expand your knowledge and explore your career goals. “Explore your options before you get into ACE,” Kyla advised, “and then, once you’re in ACE, don’t limit yourself to just what you’re doing.” Learning in the SwimRVA Collegiate School Aquatics Center (CSAC) facility allows students to obtain firsthand experience in an actionable environment. The experience and knowledge gained from the ACE Center equip students with the tools needed to prepare themselves for their academic futures and college. As demand for lifeguards continues to grow, it is crucial that, as a community, we work together to expand aquatics as a field in workforce development. Thanks to the ACE Center at Hermitage and SwimRVA, Richmond’s barriers to aquatics are shrinking by the day. 

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