Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics hosted 10 sports professionals from Serbia on Tuesday as part of the Community Connections Program, an international outreach initiative organized by the International House of Charlotte.
The mission of International House, a nonprofit organization, is to promote international understanding. It serves as a center for diversity, advocating for people of diverse national backgrounds and organizing professional and cultural programs such as Community Connections.
The program is designed to promote public diplomacy through the exchange of cultural ideas and values among international participants, U.S. families and local host organizations.
The Serbian delegation's goal on its visit to Charlotte was to experience how after-school activities, parks and recreation programs, boys and girls clubs and groups such as HFFA, the YMCA and the YWCA operate and are organized in the this country.
The delegation of sports professionals, coaches, teachers, government and nongovernment officials toured HFFA and met with Executive Director Molly Burroughs and Aaron Hintz, HFFA Carolina Diving Academy director. The group discussed youth sports, competitive training for athletes and the facility's successful integration in the Huntersville community.
“HFFA is such an impressive facility,” said Rena Hawkins, project manager for International House, who coordinated the group's visit to Charlotte. “One of the main goals of the group is to learn how, in the United States, we make sports facilities available to all of our citizens and not just elite athletes.
“HFFA is the perfect place to demonstrate to the Serbian delegation how a public facility can be welcoming to kids, seniors and people who swim just for pleasure while, at the same time, offering coaching and training for Olympic-level athletes.”
During the tour, the delegates got to swim in the 50-meter pool and dive from the 1- and 3-meter springboards. The delegation also tried out a fluid rower and fluid upper body ergometer.
The Serbian visitors were interested in learning how HFFA has had a positive effect on the community, including economic development. The group discussed how to develop similar facilities and opportunities in Serbia.
“We were excited to be part of this special visit to the U.S. and Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics,” Burroughts said. “The exchange of ideas was highly worthwhile, and it was an interesting learning experience for all of us.
“From our standpoint, we hope we were able to share information that will be useful to the delegates in their youth and community sports programs back home.”
For more information about Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics, call 704-766-2222 or visit www.hffa.com.