LEXINGTON, Ky. — According to the Children’s Safety Network, nearly 900 children die in the United States each year from unintentional drowning, with those numbers being higher for children of color.
Lexington YMCA is working to change those statistics by educating children on water safety.
40 students from Fayette County are learning the basics of water safety before heading out to the pool this summer.
“And then in the gym we tried to be a lifeguard and then we saved each other on the next rotation and then we put on life jackets,” Keshaa Smith, a sixth grader in Lexington said.
Smith is just one student from the summer program Colts In Action. It’s a summer program partnering with the YMCA to provide free lessons with their safety around the water program.
“If you don’t know how to swim, it helps you because they teach you a lot before you get in the pool,” Smith said.
For the second time this year, Jessica Berry, the Vice President of Mission Advancement says students get to work on their skills in and out of the water.
“We’ve heard laughter, we’ve heard screaming, we’ve had a little bit of fear about getting in the water and then upstairs they’re playing lots of games,” Berry said.
According to the CDC, drowning is a leading cause of death for children. The CDC also reports that children of color ages 1-14 drown at rates 7.6 times higher than children who are white.
Berry says providing free access to these pools and education will hopefully prevent these stats from increasing.
“This is exciting to see kids either learn new skills or realize that they thought they were far more advanced than they actually are. And that’s really the point of this to make sure that you know how far you are in the water safety process. And let us help you get the rest of the way,” Berry said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says a lack of adult supervision causes most drownings, and Berry says for students like Smith who attended the training will receive eight weeks of free swim lessons.
The YMCA plans to host another swim training day later this year, providing swim lessons for nearly three hundred students between all of their locations.