The Jamestown YMCA Aquatics Department has been teaching aquatic safety skills to area second graders in the Jamestown school district for more than four years.
Since the program's inception, it has served nearly 1300 students.
The goal of the aquatic safety program is to expose local second-grade students to water-safety elements since drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1 to 14 with minority children at an even higher risk.
Second-grade teacher Darlene Brace’s class from Fletcher School recently attended the Southern Tier Splash Aquatic Safety Day at the Jamestown YMCA. The students learned how to be safe around the water through hands-on learning from the Y aquatics staff.
"It is imperative for children to have an early introduction to swimming and aquatic safety as statistics show rising numbers of drowning deaths in later childhood and early teen years," said Jason Chinni, YMCA Aquatics director.
"Summer comes every year and our area is surrounded by many bodies of water, so it is a necessity that our children have a program that teaches them these life-saving skills. We have already lost two members of our community to drowning this year; that is two too many."
YMCA Aquatic Safety Day involves the teaching of basic pool rules, personal safety, self help, rescue, proper life jacket use and boating safety. Certified lifeguards and swimming instructors teach the class under the direction of Chinni.
Darlene Brace, a second-grade teacher at Fletcher School, has been a positive advocate for the program and has been participating since the beginning.
"I feel this program is important because most of the kids would not be exposed to this type of safety lesson and all need it with the ample amounts of water around us," said Brace.
During one of the recent lessons, Brace had a realization.
"I noticed right away that some children do not know the difference between what objects can sink, what objects can float or what they can use to help someone in need.
With this in mind, she plans to incorporate these teaching moments into her future summer lesson plans so her students can better understand these important elements.
The YMCA is currently running this valuable program free of charge to every second grader in the Jamestown School district. The schools provide the transportation while the Y covers staffing and supply costs through donations from its annual Partner with Youth fundraising program.
The YMCA and several of the schools would like to expand this program by increasing the amount of teaching days and possibly offer it to other grades, but funding sources have always been a concern.
For more information about the YMCA Southern Tier Splash program, how to schedule an aquatic safety day at the YMCA, or if you are interested in volunteering or donating, contact Jason Chinni at firstname.lastname@example.org.