RAHWAY, NJ – The Gateway Family YMCA – Rahway Branch partnered with the Rahway Community Action Organization to provide 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.
Safety Around Water is designed for all children, but it especially targets underserved populations who are at higher risk for drowning than other populations. 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 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.
“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.”
In achieving its goal to make swim lessons more accessible for all children, this Spring The Gateway Family YMCA – Rahway Branch partnered with local community organization, Rahway Community Action Organization to provide Safety Around Water to children in their care. The Rahway Community Action Program visited the YMCA, bringing 27 preschool children with the intention of equipping them with the tools they needed to be confident in the water.
All of the children were able to learn safety techniques to provide confidence to act in case they accidentally fell in the water. Despite several of the preschoolers having had previous fears associated with the water and swimming, all 27 were able to leave the program with a wealth of knowledge and newfound confidence in themselves. During the Safety Around Water program, all participants are encouraged to gain levels of independence in the water as they continue to develop their skills. Several children enjoyed swimming all by themselves by the end of the 8 week program.
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 Northern Middlesex County and Eastern Union County, The Gateway Family YMCA over 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 Gateway Family YMCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, health and community service organization of caring staff and volunteers dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community and stands For Youth Development, For Healthy Living and For Social Responsibility. The Gateway Family YMCA impacts the community by providing quality services to people of all ages, races, faith or incomes. The Y doesn’t just strengthen bodies – it strengthens people, families and communities. The Y.™ For a better us.™
Families interested in learning more about Safety Around Water and how to enroll their child in The Gateway Family YMCA swimming and water safety classes should visit www.tgfymca.org or contact the Five Points Branch 908-688-9622 or Rahway Branch 732-388-0057.
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