YMCA offers community 'Safety Around the Water' program for kids to help prevent drownings

While seniors enjoy water aerobics at the Torrance South Bay YMCA, the kids get their feet wet, too. It's all part of the Y's "Safety Around the Water" program.

"We have a lot of statistics that show that after they go through this program, children will actually start learning because it's all pattern based in sequences that they'll keep that repetition going," said Harry Van, aquatics director for the Torrence South Bay YMCA.

Van says the Y taught 53,000 kids last year with great success.

"It teaches them how to properly get in the water. It teaches them, 'Is there an adult around before you go in the water?' And once they have those things established, it helps prevent children from just jumping into a pool," Van said.

The program is for kids 3 to 14 years of age. But the YMCA also offers parent/child classes, and of course, classes for adults.

"We always love to swim. It's a great activity and it's kind of a way for them to get involved.," said Jose Martinez of Montebello.

Water safety is crucial. The California Department of Health reports that drowning is a leading cause of injury-related deaths among children under the age of 5. But Van says by teaching kids sequence patterns, they can help reduce the risk.

"Some of the things they will learn is: jump-push-turn-grab. That's a sequence that we teach the kids so if they fall in the water or they jump in, they know how to get out the water right away," Van said.

"Another sequence we teach them is swim-float-swim. They'll swim and when they are tired they float on their back and when they're rested up the go back and start swimming again," Van added.

This week the YMCA Torrence South bay is offering a week of swimming for $40. That's swim safety lessons, and you do not have to be a member of the Y to participate.

And with 26 YMCA branches in the Greater L.A. area, check your local Y to see when their "Safety Around the water" program begins.
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