This summer the YMCA of Western North Carolina is offering Safety Around Water, a program designed to engage and educate parents about the importance of water safety skills and give more of America’s youth access to water safety lessons.
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 Caucasian 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 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.
“All children deserve access to water safety resources and Safety Around Water is a great starting point not only to get kids comfortable in the water, but also develop a love of swimming,” said Paul Vest, president and CEO of the YMCA of Western North Carolina. “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.”
The Y introduced the concept of group swim lessons in 1909. Now, each year in 2,200 pools across the country, the Y teaches more than a million children from all backgrounds invaluable water safety and swim skills. Here in Western North Carolina the Y teaches 4,000 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.
The Safety Around Water program is offered to local children through partnerships with community organizations such as schools and recreation centers. To learn more about water safety visit www.ymcawnc.org/watersafety or contact Tina Weaver, director of program development, at [email protected] or 828 210 9605.