This summer, the YMCA of Southern Nevada offers Safety Around Water, a free program designed 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 focuses on reaching underserved communities with a special emphasis on African American and Hispanic communities in Las Vegas, where risk of drowning among children is highest.
The YMCA of Southern Nevada has partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada (BGCSNV) to further extend our reach into the community. Over the course of 8 weeks, YMCA will be providing swim lessons to 200 school age youth through their partnership with BGCSNV.
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.
“All children deserve access to water safety resources and Safety Around Water is a great starting point to not only get kids comfortable in the water, but also develop a love of swimming,” said Raymond Fraser, Branch Executive at the SkyView YMCA. “In many underserved communities, staying safe around water means keeping kids away from water, but water safety and swimming are important life skills that need fostering in all children.”
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 Las Vegas, the Y teaches nearly 3000 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.
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.lasvegasymca.org.