Donation for swim lessons well spent

Drowning is considered the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for ages 1 to 14, trailing only automobile accidents, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That makes the free lessons the Northern Lights YMCA offers to all third-graders in Dickinson County the past three years all the more essential.

And now, thanks to the local 100-Plus Women Who Care, this potentially life-saving program will continue.

“Our third-grade swim lessons program has proven remarkable successful,” YMCA Aquatics Director John Leech, who has taught swimming for more than a decade, said last year. “We target kids in the third grade because they have both the mental and physical capacity to learn in a large group setting.

“It’s also a good age because if they’ve had a negative experience in the water, we can still catch that and try to get it out of their system,” he said. “Fear of drowning can be paralyzing to individual’s psyche if not caught early enough.”

According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 people who die from drowning are children, and for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

Research indicates the participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children, according to the CDC.

Enter the YMCA, which this year has more than 260 students from roughly eight elementary schools in the region learning how to swim by getting five 40-minute lessons. The program began in late April and wraps up just before summer break.

In addition to the swim lessons, Leech’s staff also introduces the kids to boat safety, lifejacket fit, proper water attire as well as sun and heat safety.

A nod as well needs to go to the ongoing generosity of the 100-Plus Women Who Care in Dickinson County, which since December 2012 has raised more than $460,000 for local non-profit charities and organizations in the community.