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YMCAs to host free swim lessons to help underserved local children with water safety
by Report submitted · July 6th, 2017

Swim lessons help save lives and the YMCA is working to ensure all children-even those who can't afford swim lessons-receive that life-saving training.

As part of the Y's commitment to reduce drowning and keep kids safe in and around the water, the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metro Area is providing swim lesson scholarships this summer and fall to underserved kids in our community.

The swim lessons will be free of charge for qualifying children, ages 3-12, at the Helen G. Nassif, Marion and Stoney Point Ys. The next session begins July 10. To learn how to qualify for swim lesson scholarships, please contact Eric Petersen at 319-366-6421, ext. 403 or

"Educating children how to be safe around water is just as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street," said Paul Brown, Aquatics Director of the Helen G. Nassif YMCA. "The Y teaches children of all ages and backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared, and this practice not only saves lives, it builds confidence."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages one to 14 years old. In ethnically diverse communities, the youth drowning rate is two to three times higher than the national average, according to a USA Swimming study. Additionally, nearly six out of 10 African American and Hispanic/Latino children are unable to swim, nearly twice as many as their Caucasian counterparts. Over the last 10 years, an average of 37 Iowans died each year from accidental drowning, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. In 2015 it estimated there were 27 unintentional fatal drownings in the state of Iowa, five of whom were children under the age of 18.

The Y is a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety and has been serving our community for nearly 150 years. The YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metro Area continues to help youth and adults experience the joy and benefits of swimming so they can be healthy, confident and secure in the water. There are a variety of programs to choose from, including swim lessons for children beginning at six months old, teen and adult swim lessons, private swim lessons, competitive swim team, competitive swim training and water exercise. Marion and Stoney Point Ys offer community swims every Friday night.

In addition to learning lifesaving water safety skills, children can increase their physical activity by swimming. Swimming also motivates children to strive for self-improvement, teaches goal orientation and cultivates a positive mental attitude and high self-esteem. It also teaches life lessons of sports and sportsmanship, so that children can learn how to work well with teammates and coaches, and how to deal with winning and losing-skills that last a lifetime.
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