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The Y helps children learn to be safe around water

The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina increases availability of water safety and swim lessons in underserved communities

WINSTON-SALEM — As part of the Y’s commitment to reduce drowning rates and keep kids safe in and around the water, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina will provide scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to children from underserved communities across our Association.

The Y has been awarded $94,000 in grant funding from Y-USA for its Safety Around Water program. The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina will be able to serve 1,400 children across 14 branches. This is the largest grant for Safety Around Water, or SAW, that the YMCA of NWNC has ever received. The second largest grant for SAW was $57,000 that served 1,105 children in 2019.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In ethnically diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average, according to a USA Swimming study. Additionally 64% of African-American children, 45% of latino children, and 40% of Caucasian children have no or low swimming ability.

“Educating children how to be safe around water is just as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street,” said Stan Law, president and CEO of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina. “The Y teaches children of all ages and backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared, and this practice not only saves lives it builds confidence.”

The Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for years. The YMCA of NWNC began its SAW program in 2016.

The YMCA of NWNC continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming, so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water.

There are a variety of programs at the Y to choose from, including swim lessons, Safety Around Water, and Swim TYDE, the competitive swim program.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing — skills that last a lifetime.

To learn how to qualify for financial scholarships, contact Amy McCarter at a.mccarter@ymcanwnc.org.