Lessons for children new to swimming happen February School Vacation Week

[LYNN, Mass. February 15, 2022] The YMCA of Metro North will offer free Water Safety lessons at its Lynn and Melrose locations during February Vacation Week for children new to swimming and water safety. Funding for the lessons comes from the Baker-Polito Administration Safe Water Initiative Massachusetts (SWIM) grants announced in August. The grants aim to increase access to swimming lessons and enhance water safety in Massachusetts in response to a record number of tragic drownings over the spring and summer.

The YMCA of Metro North is now enrolling children ages 3-15 for lessons beginning on February 21. The free safety lessons are reserved for children who have never had a swim lesson at the YMCA of Metro North locations. In Lynn, the Demakes Family YMCA is also partnering with the New American Association of Massachusetts to provide a swim lesson to people newly arriving in the country.

“Drowning is preventable, and learning basic swimming and water safety skills is one way we can reduce a child’s risk of drowning,” says Kathleen Walsh, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro North. “The Y is happy to join in the Governor’s efforts to enhance water safety in the state and expand access to children who have not had a swim lesson at the Y or who are unable to afford lessons.”

For children ages 1–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes. The YMCA of Metro North teaches more than 5,000 people how to swim every year. With the SWIM grant, they will add 150 more lessons for children new to swimming.

Collectively, YMCAs across the United States teach 1 million children to swim every year.

“With warmer weather right around the corner, it is incredibly important to remind people of safety practices that save lives and prevent drowning,” says Andrea Baez, Senior Branch Executive at the Demakes Family YMCA in Lynn. “We look forward to partnering with the New American Association and others to raise awareness and provide people with more information and reminders about water safety in the coming months.”

In addition to the free water safety lessons, the association will launch its annual WATER SMART IS WATER SAFE campaign with safety information, tips, and videos to remind everyone how to be safe around the water.

“Staying vigilant is one of the most important tools to preventing drowning,” says Katelyn Papadopoulos, Senior Branch Executive at the Melrose Family YMCA. “There may not always be a trained professional lifeguard around, so we all need to be water watchers and remind each other how to stay safe.”

YMCA of Metro North’s Water Smart is Water Safe information tips and tools can be found at: https://www.ymcametronorth.org/water-safety/