By Gary Weckselblatt
The Quakertown Community School District is partnering with the YMCA to have 2nd graders participate in a “Safety Around Water” program.
These are not swimming lessons. Rather, they’re a way to teach water safety skills to help prevent drowning, a significant cause of death for children.
“Drowning is one of leading causes of death for children,” said Michael Tannous, executive director of the Upper Perkiomen Valley YMCA. “The Quakertown Community School District has a wonderful opportunity to take advantage, for free, of the great legacy of the YMCA, with its premier instructors of safety around water.”
According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the National Safety Council:
- Approximately 830 children ages 14 and under drown every year. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 4 years and ages 10 to 14 years.
- An average of about 3,600 injuries a year occur to children due to a near-drowning incident.
“We consider this a public safety issue, and it’s a way for us to insure our kids can be safe around water,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lisa Hoffman. “They’ll be learning some basics; how to put on a life jacket, how to learn to float.”
Students at Neidig, Quakertown and Richland elementaries will have their field trips at the Upper Bucks County YMCA’s Quakertown branch. Pfaff and Trumbauersville second graders will head to the Upper Perk Y.
The program will take place on back-to-back days in May. The days have yet to be determined. Each lesson lasts about one hour. Students will be bused to the YMCA and return to their school before the end of the day. There is no cost for students. The district will pay for the busing.
At the Y, students will be organized into small groups where they will be supported by lifeguards and staff in the water. After the hour-long session, students will have an opportunity to dry off and change into dry clothes. It is worth noting that because the sessions occur over back-to-back days, swimsuits and towels will need to be dried to be used the next day.
“Children will learn to have enough body awareness to be safe around water,” Mr. Tannous said. “They’ll be taught that if you fall in, turn and grab the side, and how to float. If your friend falls in, here’s what you need to do. Second graders can handle that. It gets them in the water so the experience is not foreign to them.”
Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.