The Gateway Family YMCA announced today the launch of Safety Around Water, a program 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 will focus on reaching African American and Hispanic communities in Eastern Union County and Northern Middlesex County, 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 one 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 will be 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 in the growth and development of all children,” said Krystal R. Canady, CEO, The Gateway Family YMCA. “All children deserve access to water safety resources that not only could save their lives, but enrich them with an outlet for fun, healthy activity,” added Melynda A. Mileski, EVP/COO.
In achieving its goal to make swim lessons more accessible for all children, the Y will award hundreds of scholarships for free swim lessons to children in high-risk communities in Eastern Union County and Northern Middlesex County.
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 at The Gateway Family YMCA, the Y teaches over 2,800 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 Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.
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.tgfymca.org or contact the Five Points Branch at 908-688-9622 or Rahway Branch at 732-388-0057.