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YMCA Sponsors Elementary Water Safety Classes
November 29, 2022 – Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools second graders are going outside the classroom to learn some very important safety skills with the Kernersville Family YMCA’s Safety Around Water program.
Safety Around Water is a special curriculum for a special age of swimmer. YMCA Executive Director Chris Booth says that children are generally around seven or eight years old when their parents start to entrust them with swimming by themselves without constant supervision, but it’s also an age where many children aren’t confident swimmers yet. That makes second grade the perfect time for children to gather with their classmates and learn the basics of water safety.
“They’re around the age where mom and dad are starting to let them be on their own a bit more,” Booth said. “It’s a pivotal time for them to learn how to swim.”
Classes from several WS/FCS elementary schools have already joined the eight-session program. Students get to swim in the program pool and learn key safe swimming skills like relaxing to float, kicking, treading water, and getting used to being briefly submerged. Safety Around Water puts these lessons in the context of a field trip surrounded by familiar faces, and the gentle pace of the lessons helps children who are nervous about swimming ease into it at their own pace.
“We had kids on the first day who didn’t even want to touch the water,” Teacher Renee Kepner said. “Now we see them doing somersaults under the water.”
In addition to picking up on technical skills, the main purpose of Safety Around Water is to teach kids confidence. Swimming can be scary for a student who hasn’t grown up around bodies of water, but Safety Around Water meets them where they are as a swimmer and educates them so that they don’t have to be afraid. Each group gets multiple swimming instructors so that anyone who needs extra help will get some one-on-one attention. Teacher Anne Peeler says that her class from Cash Elementary School has blossomed while participating in the program, even the students who are getting in a pool for the first time ever.
“Some of them have never been in a pool and have never been in a body of water, and the way that we’ve seen them grow is impressive,” Peeler said.
The Family YMCA of Kernersville is offering Safety Around Water free of charge to WS/FCS second grade classes and is even covering transportation costs for them. Booth says that the YMCA wants all of these children to grow up safe and confident around water. They’ll still have plenty more to learn if they choose to come back to the YMCA for further lessons, but picking up life-saving information and having fun while they do it is an excellent way to get started.
“Our hope is that this lays the groundwork for their future,” Booth said. “We want to make sure that they’re ready.”
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