PAWTUCKET, R.I. (April 18, 2019) — Children from Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket will be able to apply for 150 scholarships that will help pay for swim and water safety lessons. The Pawtucket Family YMCA and Woonsocket YMCA joined other branches around the nation in addressing childhood drowning that disproportionately impact African-American and Hispanic communities by launching 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.
According to data from the USA Swimming Foundation, 64 percent of African American children and 40 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim. While fatal drowning is a concern for all youth, it is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years old. Statistics for African American children between 5 and 14 years old also indicate this group is 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 Jeanine Achin, Chief Operations Officer for the YMCA of Pawtucket. “All children, especially in Rhode Island, deserve access to water safety resources that not only could save their lives, but could also open the door to a healthy, lifelong activity.”
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. Through Safety Around Water, Jeanine says, the Y hopes to further bridge cultural and socioeconomic gaps that can prevent some children from learning important water safety skills.
Families interested in learning more about swimming and water safety classes should visit ymcapawtucket.org.
About the YMCA of Pawtucket
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. The YMCA of Pawtucket is comprised of five branches across the state: Pawtucket Family YMCA and Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center in Pawtucket, MacColl YMCA in Lincoln, Westwood YMCA in Coventry and Woonsocket YMCA.