The YMCAs in Massachusetts have made a collective commitment to impact at-risk children by adopting a statewide Safety Around Water initiative aimed at increasing water safety intelligence and strengthening overall water utilization practices in youth.
Massachusetts YMCAs set out to accomplish this goal by utilizing $400,000 of their Fiscal Year 2018 Youth-at-Risk allocation to partner with each other, as well as the community and statewide organizations, to offer education, training, employment, and swim instruction to the community’s most vulnerable populations.
Water Safety has been a priority for the YMCA Cape Cod. In 2017, YMCA Cape Cod offered Safety Around Water curriculum to over 1,000 children on water safety best practices. In addition, we have been able to offer jobs and certified lifeguard training for at-risk youth at our facility. The additional funding will allow Y’s to reach more children and help prevent more drownings.
According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14. And nationally, one in five people who die from drowning are under the age of 14. This is further influenced by external risk factors including low socioeconomic status and lack of higher education. This has the greatest impact on ethnic minorities and rural populations. The Y provided over $50,000 in scholarships to support swim instruction for families of children under the age of 12.
YMCA Cape Cod has taken great strides to address these inequities through targeted efforts to provide swim instruction and lifeguard training to at-risk and immigrant communities. In the past year, YMCA Cape Cod has successfully provided swim lessons to over 1,000 youth in communities as across the Cape like West Barnstable, Barnstable, Centerville, Osterville, Hyannis, Sandwich, East Sandwich, Marston Mills, West Yarmouth, Yarmouth Port, Cataumet, Brewster, and South Wellfleet.
Research by the National Autism Association has further demonstrated that accidental drowning adversely affects children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with Autism are 160 times more likely to suffer drowning fatalities than the general pediatric population, and in 2009, 2010, and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% of injury-related deaths in children with Autism. The YMCA of Cape Cod has recognized this disheartening statistic, and offers swim instruction to 38 children with Autism under the supervision well-trained staff.
Through persistent efforts, Massachusetts YMCAs hope to continue to serve the community’s most at-risk youth through offering the education and instruction necessary to promote water safety for all.