[Charlotte, May 2016] – During Water Safety Month, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte is raising awareness about childhood drowning and what they’re doing to help. Safety Around Water is a free YMCA program designed to engage and educate families about the importance of water safety skills and provide more of America’s youth access to water safety lessons. The Y delivers the program in low-income African American and Hispanic apartment communities, where pools typically do not have lifeguards and risk of drowning among children is highest.
According to data from the USA Swimming Foundation, 70 percent of African American and 60 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to just 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 five to 14 are three times more likely to drown than their white counterparts.
The YMCA of Greater Charlotte launched Safety Around Water in 2015, making swim instruction accessible to more than 300 children in 6 apartment communities, at no cost to the participants. Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, the YMCA will expand the program this summer to serve 1,000 youth across 20 different high-risk apartment complex communities.
Safety Around Water teaches fundamental water safety and swimming skills to reduce a child’s risk of drowning and give them confidence in and around water. During the eight-session course, children 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. The Y hopes Safety Around Water will further bridge cultural and access gaps that prevent some children from learning lifesaving water safety skills. “All children deserve access to water safety resources and Safety Around Water is a great starting point to not only get kids comfortable in the water, but also develop a love of swimming,” said Laura Ferguson, Association Director of Program Development for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “In many underserved communities, staying safe around water means keeping kids away from water, but water safety and swimming are important life skills that should be fostered in all children.”
About the YMCA of Greater Charlotte
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte, comprised of 19 membership locations and two resident camps, engages approximately 272,000 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. Deeply rooted in the community for over 140 years, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. www.ymcacharlotte.org
About the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation
The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation is an independent self-funding 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supporting activities that help meet the educational and health needs of today's society and future generations. Since its creation in 1986, the foundation has granted $68.9 million to support North Carolina projects and programs that emphasize the understanding and application of science, health and education at all academic and professional levels. Visit us at NCGSKFoundation.org.