GREENVILLE — Over 330 children in Darke County were involved in this year’s YMCA’s Safety Around Water Program. The YMCA hosts the event annually at the beginning of summer, as families venture out to their favorite pools, beaches, lakes, and ponds. The classes are presented free of charge and open to the public.
The event, sponsored by The Daily Advocate, Greenville Rotary Club, Wayne Healthcare Foundation, Versailles Policy, and Alvetro Orthodontics, was held at both YMCA branches. Versailles’ event was June 2 – 3, and Greenville’s was June 7 – 9.
“The Daily Advocate was proud to be a sponsor of this important program,” said Editor Christina Chalmers. “It’s an amazing program that teaches valuable lessons to children in our communities with the hope of keeping them safe this summer.”
This year’s theme, Swim Safely with Dory, was a big hit among the children who participated. Throughout the program, water safety skills were combined with songs and activities that emphasized character development through the Y’s core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
“The goal of the program is to make children safer around water by teaching important skills and boosting their self-confidence,” said Sam Casalano, YMCA of Darke County CEO. “For some, this program will help them overcome some fears, and make their summer more rewarding, with less risk of injury or harm.”
On day one, children were taught pool safety rules, such as no running, no swimming alone, and look before you leap. They learned how to identify the lifeguards and why it is important to listen to them. They practiced blowing bubbles in the water and kicking. They also learned a valuable lifesaving skill during an activity called Flip or Flop. They practiced flipping over onto their backs to float and rest while swimming, then flopping back over to swim when ready. The children were also introduced to the character values of respect and responsibility.
The second day, participants learned about the importance of sunscreen and drinking lots of water when out in the sun. They also learned about how swimming in cold water is more difficult than in warmer water, and learned some basic rescue skills. They were introduced to the character value of caring.
On the final day, kids learned boat safety. They learned about using the “help position” and the “huddle position” to protect themselves. They were fitted with life vests and got to take a ride in the Y’s canoe. They were also introduced to the character value of honesty.
After each class, every child took home slips of paper to return the next day with something written or drawn on them demonstrating the character value of the day. Y staff then used the slips to make links to add to paper chain legs on a life-size sea octopus, on display in the pool arena.
“Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for young children today. If we can save one child from drowning in Darke County, it makes Safety Around Water more than worthwhile,” Casalano said. “Because of the caring and support of our sponsors, in conjunction with volunteers and staff members, we were able to offer this program. The enthusiasm and dedication of all who were involved definitely made this year memorable, and it is gratifying to see such a strong community-wide commitment to safety and the welfare of children in our area.”
For more information about upcoming swim lessons, water safety education and other YMCA programs, please contact the YMCA of Darke County at 937-548-3777.
“You are never too old or too young to learn to swim.”