Philly swim club may see a racial discrimination lawsuit soon

Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley is accused of refusing to allow black children from a day camp to swim. The children allegedly heard members of the club make racial comments about them while they were at the pool.
The parents and staff from Creative Steps Inc. are considering legal action directed at the Valley Club.

There are 65 campers that are part of the Creative Steps day camp. The children are African American and Hispanic.

On June 29 the campers arrived at the private swim club around 3:30 p.m. on a first visit. The camp had made arrangements for the children to swim at the club on Mondays through August 10.

Three campers came up to Alethea Wright, the executive director, on that first visit saying that they had heard members of the swim club asking what African Americans were doing at their club.

NBC Philadelphia reports:

“When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool,” Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. “The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately.”

The children were upset but they remained at the pool for the time that had been scheduled. Wright approached the club president John Duesler about the event and he seemed to be sorry for the incident.

On Friday July 3 the camp received a refund for the $1,950 they had paid in membership fees to the swim club. The children no longer were allowed access on Mondays.

There was no reason given for the refund.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a statement given from Duesler:

“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion . . . and the atmosphere of the club.”

The pool that the camp had previously used, New Frankford Community Y closed last month because of a lack of funds.

The camp is a 20-minute drive away from the swim club.

Campers also use the indoor door at the Jewish Community Center in Philadelphia twice a week but had wanted the children to also have time at an outdoor pool.

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