Muslim Swim Lessons

The United States is a land full of different cultures and religions and practices that are widely different from what we consider “mainstream.” This is especially true of the Muslim community, which follows modesty codes that seem extreme compared to many Anglo cultures. For many Muslim women this means not being able to participate in physical activities. However, one YMCA in St. Paul, Missouri, provides swimming lessons for Muslim girls living in the local Somali-American community. The one-hour girls-only class has had a huge impact on the girls’ confidence and provides them a safe place to learn important water safety skills. The program is also a sign of how important and easy it is to accommodate other cultures within our country. Share this article about the YMCA with young adults and this additional article about Pope Francis’ outreach to the Muslim community and discuss the following questions:

  • What did you think about these two articles? How do you think they relate?
  • Why is it important to create space for religions/communities that are different from our own?
  • What do you think of Pope Francis’ outreach to the Muslim community? What examples of interfaith dialogue or cooperation do you see happening in your community?