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YMCA teaches water safety

A young boy learns to float in one of the pools at the YMCA of MEWSA.

As part of the YMCA’s commitment to reduce drowning rates and keep children safe in and around the water, the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge & South Amboy (MEWSA) will provide scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to children from underserved communities in our service areas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1-14 years old. In ethnically diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average, according to a USA Swimming study. Additionally, 64% of African American children, 45% of Latino children, and 40% of Caucasian children have no or low swimming ability, according to information provided by the YMCA of MEWSA.  

“Educating children how to be safe around water is just as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street,” Rose Cushing, president and CEO of the YMCA of MEWSA, said in the statement. “The Y’s teaches children of all ages and backgrounds that water should be  fun, not feared, and this practice not only saves lives it builds confidence.”

The Y believes this is especially true following 2020’s COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We know there are children in our community who are now more at risk due to the need to maintain social distancing in 2020 and we want to make every effort we can to reach those kids this year,” Cushing said in the statement.

In order to maintain a safe and healthy environment while COVID-19 is still present, the Y is limiting the number of people in the pool at any one time through a reservation system, having instructors teach from the deck during classes, and having all staff and volunteers wear face masks and face shields.

There are a variety of programs to choose, including lap swim, family swim, junior lap swim and private and semi-private lessons.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sport and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches and how to deal with winning and losing, according to the statement.

To learn how to qualify for financial assistance, contact Alexis Brown at 732-548-2044 or alexis.brown@ymcaofmewsa.org.

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