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Arizona YMCA to launch program to teach children, parents water safety skills

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — Summer is right around the corner, which means children across the Valley will soon be rushing to the nearest pool as quickly as they can in order to cool down.

But before they do, officials with the local YMCA want to make sure both children and parents understand the importance of water safety and drowning prevention.

According to a press release, Valley of the Sun YMCA expects to educate as many as 35,000 people through its Safety Around Water program.

Not only will does the program aim to “teach kids the value of being safe in and around water,” it also looks to reach African-American and Hispanic communities, where the drowning risk for children is highest.

The Valley of the Sun YMCA wants to reverse the “alarming statistics about youth drowning rates.”

In Arizona, according to the press release, twice as many kids drown compared to the national average, with drowning as the leading cause of death for kids ages 1 to 4 in Arizona.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation, 70 percent of African-American and 60 percent of Hispanic children do not know how to swim, compared to just 40 percent of white children.

The program will take place at all 14 YMCA branches, with eight lessons at 40 minutes each. The program will start before Memorial Day weekend, but parents need to sign up at their local branch.

Bryan Madden, CEO of Valley of the Sun YMCA, said in the press release that the branch “now has the ability to better teach Arizonans swimming as a survival skill.”

Jackie Morgan with the Valley of the Sun YMCA emphasied in the press release that “teaching children how to swim and be safe in and around water is one of the most important life skills parents can help their children learn.”

“With warmer weather approaching, many families will be headed to beaches, pools, lakes and waterparks during the summer,” Morgan said. “Our program teaches children of all ages and from all backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared.”

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