HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ --  The Hamilton Area YMCA wants to create equal opportunities for all and get children of diverse backgrounds into the pool.  Through the launch of a pilot program to provide access to water safety lessons, the YMCA is focused on reaching out to local children with disabilities.

To achieve the goal of making swim lessons more accessible for all children, the Hamilton Area YMCA is awarding 100 scholarships for free swim lessons and water safety education to children with disabilities in Hamilton Township area this spring and summer.

“At the Y, we work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential,” said Nicole Bizuga, senior aquatics director, Hamilton Are YMCA. “We know many families delayed classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the community reopens, we want to remind that water safety isn’t just fun—it’s essential. The Y’s classes provide a safe, fun, and healthy environment for children with diverse abilities to learn important water safety skills in a way that can ultimately save their lives if ever faced with an unexpected situation with water.”

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Recently, a YMCA team member and avid swimmer launched a charity campaign to also raise money for the swim programs.  Roberto Hernandez swam more than 1,100 laps in the pool in about two weeks and is continuing his effort to raise a goal fo $25,000 though his Go Fund Me page. 

According to data from the American Journal of Public Health, children with diverse abilities face a higher risk of drowning. Further, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are 160 times more likely to die from drowning compared to the general pediatric population.

The Y is dedicated to elevating and promoting equity within communities around the country, guaranteeing fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all, while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented full participation of some groups. Through this swimming program, parents and caregivers of children with disabilities will be given the opportunity to provide their children with the means to learn fundamental water safety and swimming skills in a safe environment.

Introduced by the YMCA in 1909, group swim lessons take place in 2,200 pools across the country annually.  The YMCA teaches more than a million children -- 2,300 children at the Hamilton YMCA -- from all backgrounds invaluable water safety and swim skills.  These program help to bridge cultural and access gaps that can prevent some children from learning important water safety skills.

For more information about swim lessons and how to enroll their child in Hamilton Area YMCA swimming and water safety classes, visit www.hamiltonareaymca.org.

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