GREENVILLE — More than 250 children in Darke County were involved in the YMCA’s safety around water program, which concluded on Thursday.
The YMCA hosts the event annually at the beginning of summer, as families venture out to their favorite pools, beaches, lakes and ponds. The class is presented free of charge, and the event is open to the public.
The event was held at both branches on June 4, 5, and 6. It is sponsored by The Daily Advocate, Wayne Healthcare Foundation, Versailles Policy, Alvetro Orthodontics and the Greenville Rotary Club. The event is also supported by Y members who agree the event teaches a vital life skill.
This year’s theme, “Swim Safely with the Incredibles 2,” was a big hit among the kids. Throughout the program, water safety skills were combined with 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,” YMCA CEO Sam Casalano said. “For some, this program will help them overcome their fear and boost their self-confidence around water.”
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.
The kids 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 also were 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 also were 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 that demonstrates the character value of the day. Y staff then used these to make links to add to paper chains to form the stretchy arms and legs of Elastigirl from the Incredibles.
“If we can save one child from drowning, it’ll be worthwhile to have this event,” Casalano said. “Because of the passion and caring 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.”