There is a list of basic life skills all parents know they must teach their children to keep them safe and healthy. It includes habits like looking both ways before you cross the street, washing your hands with soap and water, and eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables every day. For too many parents, swimming and water safety is not on the list; that’s something we need to change.
Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 14 years old. Last year, 37 children drowned in Indiana. The problem is especially serious among minority communities. African American children ages 5 to 14 are three times more likely to drown than white children. This is partly due to the lack of swimming experience among minority children.
According to a recent study from the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, 70 percent of African American and 60 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to just 40 percent of Caucasian children.
The Y is committed to reducing water-related injuries, particularly in communities where children are most at risk. During National Water Safety Month in May, the Y offers Safety Around Water, a program to engage parents about the importance of water safety and provide more children access to swim lessons. The benefits of the water safety program last long past May.
As part of the program, the YMCA will provide 27,000 scholarships to children from low-income communities to participate in free water safety lessons. Those scholarships will benefit children right here in Lafayette and all over America. The lessons teach young people valuable skills like what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly.
These classes are just one of the many swim programs that millions of people, from toddlers to adults, take advantage of at over 2,000 YMCA pools across the country. Here in Lafayette, Indiana, the Y teaches hundreds of children water safety and swimming each year. Through Safety Around Water, the Y hopes to further bridge the gaps that can prevent children from learning important water safety skills.
If children know how to stay safe in and around water, swimming can be a lifelong source of fun and exercise. Instead of keeping your children away from water, help them learn water safety skills by enrolling them in lessons. These classes can give them a new, exciting way to keep active and meet new friends.