Nearly 13,000 scholarships for swim and water safety lessons to be awarded to children in 136 high-risk communities; program launches during Water Safety Month  

CHICAGO (MAY 19, 2015) – The Y announced today the launch of Safety Around Water, a program that teaches parents about the importance of water safety skills and provides more of America’s youth access to water safety lessons. The program aims to teach all kids the value of being safe around water with emphasis on reaching African American and Hispanic/Latino communities, where 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 1 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 help their children learn fundamental water safety and swimming skills. Armed with these skills, children will know how to reach the water’s surface if they submerge, safely reach a pool’s edge, exit any body of water and respond to unexpected water situations.  

“In many underserved communities, staying safe around water means keeping kids away from water, and that needs to change,” said YMCA of the USA President and CEO Kevin Washington. “Swimming and water safety skills open the door to a wide range of fun and healthy activities for children and could even save their lives. At the Y, we believe every child in every community deserves the chance to learn how to swim and be safe around water. That’s why we launched this new program.” 

As part of Safety Around Water, the Y is working to make swim lessons more accessible for all children. This summer, the Y will award nearly 13,000 scholarships for free swim lessons to children in high-risk communities.

The Y introduced the concept of group swim lessons in 1909.  Now, each year in Y and community pools across the country, the Y teaches more than 1 million children from all backgrounds invaluable water safety and swim skills. 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

About the Y

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.  


Kevin Dietz Senior Public Relations Manager YMCA of the USA 312-419-8337 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

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