Category Archives: Children (6-10 years)
What can happen when local partners collaborate to improve community health? In Austin, Texas, one such collaboration between the local YMCA, child safety advocacy group SafeKids Austin, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and local elementary schools, has resulted in Project SAFE (Swimming, Aquatics, Fitness Education). The project, a free, two-week water safety and physical activity program for over 3,000 first-graders, includes an introduction to the Y, and its sliding scale fees for the kids and their families, many of whom are from underserved neighborhoods. About 20 percent of the families of kids in the project program returned to the Y facilities after their kids completed the class.We took a detour while in Austin for the ASTHO Annual Meeting to learn more about the Austin YMCA’s programs.
Not all the kids are swimmers by the end of the sessions, but most are comfortable in the water, can float on their back, know the importance of life jackets, recognize a swimmer in trouble and know “it’s not safe to run at the pool,” chime a group that has just finished up a morning lesson. That knowledge can be lifesaving, says Bret Kiester, executive director of the Hays Communities YMCA, one of the participating Y’s hosting the classes.
“Drowning is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for kids under fourteen, and many of these kids have no regular access to pools or the beach,” Kiester. On vacation, Kiester says, families may visit lakes, rivers and pools—and having no familiarity with water is often how accidents happen.