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The Y Helps Coastal Georgia Children Learn to be Safe Around Water
The YMCA of Coastal Georgia increases availability of water safety and swim lessons in underserved communities
YMCA swimming

SAVANNAH, GA – As part of the Y’s commitment to reduce drowning rates and keep kids safe in and around the water, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia will provide scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to children from underserved communities.  


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 percent of African American children, 45 percent of Latino children, and 40 percent 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 Joel Smoker, CEO of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia. “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 believes this is especially true following 2020’s COVID-19 shutdowns. In a typical year, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia instructs 1500+ in their swim programs—this decreased to just over 800 in 2020. “We know there are children in our community who are now more at risk due to the need to maintain social distancing in 2020 and we want to make every effort we can to reach those kids this year," Smoker adds. In 2022, the Y is incorporating its Safety Around Water programming into its award-winning Summer Day Camp program, allowing every child who attends day camp to receive the additional training which includes skills like how to get in and out of a pool safely, how to float, how to tread water, and how to put on a life vest. The Safety Around Water training is included with the camp programming at no additional charge.  


The YMCA of Coastal Georgia is also offering scholarships for traditional swimming lessons through a grant from the YMCA of the USA. Participants should register for swimming lessons online, and then complete an application for financial assistance and return it to their home branch. 


The Y has been a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety for more than 30 years. The YMCA of Coastal Georgia 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 to choose, including competitive swim teams, family swim, and individual and group swim lessons. 


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.  

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