There’s a list of basic life skills all parents instinctively know they must teach their children to keep them safe and healthy. It includes habits like looking both ways before crossing the street, washing your hands with soap and water, and eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables every day.
For too many parents, safety in and around water is not on the list, and that’s something we need to change.
Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to 14 years old. According to the 2017 Drowning Prevention Report prepared by the DNR, 29 children died in Indiana due to drowning. The problem is particularly acute among minority communities. For example, black children ages five to 14 are three times more likely to drown than their white counterparts. The disparity is partly due to the lack of swimming experience among these children.
According to a 2017 national research study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation with the University of Memphis and University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 64 percent of African American children and cannot swim, compared to 45 percent of Hispanic children, and 40 percent of Caucasian children. Additionally, 79 percent of children in families with household income less than $50,000 have no/low swimming ability.
As part of the program, the Monroe County YMCA will provide 45 scholarships to children from low-income and under-served communities to participate in free water safety lessons. The lessons teach young people valuable skills like what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, a situation every child should be equipped to handle.
These classes are just one of the many swim programs that more than a million people, from toddlers to adults, take advantage of at the Y’s 2,000+ pools across the country. Here in Monroe County, the Y teaches around 1,500 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.
To learn more about the Y’s Safety Around Water program, please visit our website.