Y Partners with Local Organizations to Expand ‘Safety Around Water’ program
YMCA of Bucks County is announcing the expansion of their 2nd Grade Swim Initiative (2GI) program to include testing for any child who is past first grade and still cannot swim. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Bucks County Orthodontics and Jackson’s Heroes 5K Foundation are partnering with YMCA of Bucks County to expand the program to benefit all children in Bucks County. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning remains the leading cause of death in young children and knowing how to swim and be safe around water is an important skill for youth.
For Andrea Cole, who runs Jackson’s Heroes’ Foundation, supporting the program is deeply personal:
“The mission of our organization is to remember the life of my son Jackson, who lost his life in a drowning accident in June, 2016,” says Cole. “For me, there is no more meaningful way than to provide children with the skills necessary to become a safe swimmer.” On October 13, The Jackson’s Heroes’ Foundation will host their 4th annual 5k and fun run event in Warminster to benefit the swim safety program.
The expanded program provides in-water testing where students are evaluated in alignment with the Y-USA ‘Safety Around Water’ rubric. Youth qualify for further programming based on their ability to enter the pool, tread water and pull themselves into a floating position as well as using their arms for forward motion to get them safely to the wall.
Collectively, the organizations are distributing a swim safety flyer in both English and Spanish and offering free swim lessons to children who qualify. The program runs through November 30, 2019 with lessons provided at the Y’s Doylestown, Fairless Hills and Quakertown branches. The flyer also provides tips for parents and caregivers and realistic statistics about the risks of drowning.
“We are so grateful for the partnership of these like-minded community organizations,” said Trish Feinthel, chief operations officer at YMCA of Bucks County. “Safety is our number one priority and we are proud to help community families in teaching their children to swim and be safe around water.”
In 2016, the Y (then Central Bucks Family YMCA) launched the 2nd Grade Swim Initiative program in partnership with Central Bucks and Centennial school districts. That year, the Y evaluated over 1,000 2nd graders for swim safety and provided water safety lessons and a month of Y membership to children who qualified. Continuing the testing annual, 33% of students tested since 2016 still qualified for swim safety lessons.
For information on the program or to register, please visit the website ymcabucks.org/2GI.YMCA of Bucks County is a charitable, nonprofit organization committed to strengthening communities through membership and programs that foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility for all. Annually, the Y serves nearly 60,600 members and participants at its five member branches, six youth education centers, and ten camp locations across Bucks County. YMCA of Bucks County provides over $5 million of community impact annually in the form of financial assistance to individuals and families in need and free programming for veterans, cancer survivors, older adults and more. To learn more visit ymcabucks.org.