YMCA launches program to award 100 swim lesson scholarships for underserved communities

YMCA of Rome and Floyd County Renews Longstanding Commitment to End Childhood Drowning with Safety Around Water Program 100 scholarships for swim and water safety lessons to be awarded to children in high-risk communities in Rome and Floyd County.

The YMCA of Rome and Floyd County 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 Rome and Floyd County where risk of drowning among children is highest.

According to data from the USA Swimming Foundation, 64 percent of African American and 40 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to 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, particularly in our community with our three rivers and many streams, creeks and lakes,” said Kristin Heath-Strickland, Aquatics Director of the YMCA in Rome. “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 Summer the Y will award 100 scholarships for free swim lessons to children in high-risk communities in our community.

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 Rome and Floyd County the Y teaches over 500 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.ymcarome.org or email Kristin Strickland, Aquatics Director at kstrickland@ymcarome.org.