Swimming not only a fun activity, but an important life skill

Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but an important life skill for all children. CONTRIBUTED

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Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but an important life skill for all children. CONTRIBUTED

As the seasons turn from spring to summer, the Great Miami Valley YMCA encourages children and parents to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind.

Swimming is not only a fun, healthy activity, but an important life skill for all children. There is 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 you cross 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 1 to 14 years old. According to the Ohio Department of health, on average 34 Ohio children and youth drown each year. The problem is particularly acute among minority communities. African American children ages 5 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 the children.

According to a recent national research study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, 70 percent of African American and 60 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to just 40 percent of Caucasian children.

As part of National Water Safety Month in May, I encourage parents to take an active role in fostering a relationship between their children and swimming—beginning with water safety. Following are safety tips to practice when in and around the water:

• Only swim when and where there is a lifeguard on duty; never swim alone.

• Be on the lookout- adults should constantly and actively watch their children.

• Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

• Parents or guardians of young children should be within an arm’s reach.

• Children and adults should not engage in breath holding activities.

• Learn CPR

• Enroll your child in a water safety program or swim lessons

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 is committed to reducing water-related injuries, particularly in communities where children are most at risk. This summer, the Great Miami Valley YMCA will offer Safety Around Water, a program to engage parents about the importance of water safety skills and provide more children access to water safety lessons.

As part of the program, the Atrium Family YMCA and Middletown YMCA will provide scholarships to children from low-income and underserved 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


SWIM LESSONS AT THE YMCA

For more information about swim lessons at the YMCA, contact your local branch:

  • Atrium Family YMCA: 5750 Innovation Drive, Franklin; 513-217-5501
  • East Butler County Family YMCA: 6645 Morris Road, Hamilton; 513-892-9622
  • Fairfield Family YMCA: 5220 Bibury Road, Fairfield; 513-829-3091
  • Fitton Family YMCA: 1307 NW Washington Blvd., Hamilton; 513-868-9622
  • Hamilton Central YMCA: 105 N. Second St., Hamilton; 513-887-0001
  • Middletown Area YMCA: 1020 Manchester Ave., Middletown; 513-422-9622

More information at www.gmvymca.org

SAFETY AROUND WATER PROGRAM

For more information about the Safety Around Water program, contact:

Middletown Area YMCA: Cara Roach at croach@gmvymca.org or 513-422-9622

Franklin Community Pool in Partnership with the Atrium Family YMCA: Visit www.franklintownshipohio.us/parks

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