Y offering water safety classes for $5
During National Water Safety Month, the Florence Family YMCA offers Safety Around Water, a low-cost program designed to engage and educate parents about the importance of water safety skills and provide more of America’s youth access to water safety lessons. The program focuses on reaching underserved communities with a special emphasis on African-American and Hispanic communities, where risk of drowning among children is highest.
According to data from the USA Swimming Foundation, 70 percent of African-American and 60 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to just 40 percent of Caucasian children. While fatal drowning is a concern for all children – it’s the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years old – African-American children ages 5 to 14 are three times more likely to drown than their white counterparts.
Through Safety Around Water, parents and caregivers are encouraged to help their children learn fundamental water safety and swimming skills. During the eight-day course, children will learn how to respond if they find themselves in unexpected water situations – from how to reach the water’s surface if they submerge to safely reaching a pool’s edge or exiting any body of water.
“In many underserved communities, staying safe around water means keeping kids away from water, but water safety and swimming are important life skills that need fostering in all children,” said Cindy Averitt, Aquatics Director at the Florence Family YMCA. “Safety Around Water is a great starting point to not only get kids comfortable in the water, but also teach their parents the importance of developing water safety skills.”
To help achieve its goal to make swim lessons more accessible for all children, this summer the Y will award 100 scholarships for swim lessons to children in high-risk and underserved communities in Florence. Children who cannot swim and have not had swim lessons before can receive eight swim lessons for only $5.
The Y introduced the concept of group swim lessons in 1909. Now, each year in more than 2,000 pools across the country, the Y teaches more than a million children from all backgrounds invaluable water safety and swim skills. Here in Florence, the Y teaches over 1000 children water safety and swimming each year. Through Safety Around Water, the Y hopes to further bridge cultural and access gaps that can prevent some children from learning important water safety skills.
Families interested in learning more about Safety Around Water and how to enroll their child in local Y swimming and water safety classes should visit www.florenceymca.org.