The Greater Scranton YMCA Helps Children Learn to be Safe Around Water As part of the Y’s commitment to reduce drowning rates and keep kids safe in and around the water, the Greater Scranton YMCA will provide scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to children from underserved communities in our region. 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, 64 percent of African-American children, 45 percent of latino children, and 40 percent of Caucasian children have no or low swimming ability. “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 Ken Brewster, Aquatics Director, Greater Scranton 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.” The Y believes this is especially true following 2020’s COVID-19 shutdowns. In a typical year, the Greater Scranton YMCA teaches 1,500 individuals in their swim programs—this decreased to 617 in 2020. “We know there are children in our community who are now more at risk due to the need to maintain social distancing in 2020 and we want to make every effort we can to reach those kids this year. In order to maintain a safe and healthy environment while COVID-19 is still present, the Y is offering smaller class sizes, requiring all staff and volunteers to wear masks and is deploying hydrostatic foggers throughout the building for disinfection of areas and equipment.” The Y is a leader in providing swim lessons and water safety. The Greater Scranton YMCA 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, including competitive swimming, family swimming, swim lessons, certification courses, the Annual Safe Around Water Campaign, water aerobics, arthritis water exercise and more. 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 sport 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. To learn how to qualify for financial assistance for swim lessons, please contact Ken Bewster at firstname.lastname@example.org or (570) 828-3112.