YMCA Starts Low-Income Water Safety Program
KSTP by Jennie Olson
The Greater Twin Cities YMCA is developing water safety lessons for low-income people in hopes of preventing drowning and luring more minorities into competitive swimming.
The curriculum provides five 40-minute lessons focusing on how to recognize safe swimming environments, how to identify a lifeguard and how to kick to the side of the pool, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The YMCA plans to take the program into low-income apartment complexes with swimming pools in Inver Grove Heights and Brooklyn Park and teach residents how to stay safe.
The people most at risk for drowning are men, children between the ages of one and four years old and minorities, according to Centers for Disease Control.
Samuel Myers Jr., a professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota who specializes in racial disparities in drowning, told MPR that the best way to prevent children from drowning is to encourage more minority kids to join swim teams. Last year only 16 of the 7,890 Minnesota athletes registered with USA Swimming were African-American.
Lindsay Mondick is the aquatics director for the Greater Twin Cities YMCA. She said many minority parents are afraid of the water themselves and don't place their children in swimming lessons because they're afraid they won't be able to get in the water and help them.
"It's kind of a cycle that isn't ever fixed because that parent will never seek out resources to have them swim." she said.
Adna Haruun, who is Somali, brought her three younger brothers from Blaine to the YMCA in Coon Rapids for swimming lessons. She said the oldest brother, 10-year Abdi, nearly drowned at a water park a couple years ago after he went off a water slide into 8 to 10 feet of water.
"It was so fast, when I just blinked, I was at the bottom," the boy said. "I was just walking at the bottom of the pool. A lifeguard came."
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