By: Cinde Ingram
HIGH POINT — Oak Hill Elementary School second-graders dipped into the Hartley Drive Family YMCA pool this week to add life skills by getting wet and learning to swim.
In the 2013-14 school year, about 70 Oak Hill second-grade students were the city’s first to take part in the Learn to Swim program at the YMCA. The Hartley YMCA partnered with the Greensboro Aquatic Center in the 2015-16 school year to serve four High Point schools.
This year, students from seven Guilford County schools are learning to swim at the YMCA, said Hartley Branch Director Robbie Smith. In addition to Oak Hill, those students are from Johnson Street Global Studies, Montlieu Academy of Technology, and Fairview, Oakview, Northwood and Shadybrook elementary schools.
“In 2019, the USA Swimming Foundation reported 221 drownings in pools and spas for children ages 15 and younger,” Smith said. “This is down from 2018, but just learning basic skills taught in the Learn to Swim program can help prevent even more drownings.”
The approximately 420 students from seven schools are just part of the overall second-grade Learn to Swim program in High Point, which has grown through donations and the cooperation of YMCAs and Wesleyan Christian Academy.
“This year we have 13 High Point elementary schools participating in the program, with 483 graduating this year to date, and we anticipate about 925 High Point students will graduate from the program by the end of this year,” GAC Learn to Swim Coordinator Rosemary Kenerly said.
The goal of the program is to teach every second-grade student in Guilford County water safety skills.
Students in the Learn to Swim program receive instruction in the pool and are taught swimming skills over a series of 10 40-minute classes. The skills gained in the Learn to Swim program are not only potentially lifesaving, but also help students develop a physically active lifestyle, improve overall health and fitness, and expose them to additional swimming opportunities and other aquatic related activities.
“Our partnership with the Greensboro Aquatic Center will help us ensure that all second-graders in High Point have the opportunity to learn skills to keep them safe in the water,” Smith said. “Learning these skills can also give children more confidence in other areas of their lives.”
High Point students taking swim lessons this school year attend the following schools:
• Parkview Village
• Oak View
• Johnson Street
• Kirkman Park
• Oak Hill
• Triangle Lake Montessori
• Millis Road
The total of Learn to Swim graduates since the program’s inception in 2011 has climbed to 6,759, Kenerly said.
“We expect to graduate more than 2,200 second-graders from 39 (Guilford County) schools this school year alone, bringing our total to about 9,000 in nine years,” Kenerly said.
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• Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death for people of all ages in the United States
• Every day, about 10 people die from drowning. Of these, two will be children aged 14 or younger
• Drowning is the second-leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
• More children 1-4 years old die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.
• Eight children drown each week in the United States
• For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for submersion injuries. These nonfatal injuries can cause severe brain damage and long-term disabilities
• 61% of all children do not know how to swim
• 68% of African American children don’t know how to swim
• 56% of Hispanic children don’t know how to swim
• 48% of Caucasian children don’t know how to swim.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
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