The McCleskey-East Cobb YMCA (1055 E Piedmont Road, Marietta, 30062) is teaming up with several Walton, Dwell & Cortland Apartment communities to offer Safety Around Water, a program designed to engage and educate parents about the importance of water safety skills and provide youth access to water safety lessons. The program focuses on reaching underserved communities with a special emphasis on African American and Hispanic communities, where the risk of drowning among children is highest.

According to a 2017 national research study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation with the University of Memphis and University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 64 percent of African American children cannot swim, compared to 45 percent of Hispanic children and 40 percent of white children. Additionally, 79 percent of children in families with household incomes of less than $50,000 have no or low swimming abilities.

During the eight-day course, children will 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.

“For generations staying safe around water meant keeping kids away from water, but it’s time to start a new family tradition by learning basic water safety skills,” said Becky Shipley, group vice president of the McCleskey-East Cobb YMCA. “Safety Around Water is a great starting point to not only get kids comfortable in the water, but also teach their parents the importance of developing water safety skills.”

The Y introduced the concept of group swim lessons in 1909. Now, each year in more than 2,000 pools across the country, the Y teaches more than a 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.

For more information on how you can get your community involved, contact the Y at 770-977-5991.

Sally Litchfield is a longtime Marietta resident. She has written for the MDJ since October 2000. Send Sally news at sallylit@bellsouth.net. Call Sally at 404-713-7318.

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