With summer around the corner, it’s no doubt that families will be hitting the water to beat the heat.
To ensure the little ones stay safe around the water this summer, the Roper YMCA will be partnering with the Maxey Community Center to educate children about water safety. Swim instructors from the Roper YMCA will bring the Y’s Safety Around Water program to Bouler Pool at 362 11th St., Winter Garden.
“Safety Around Water is a YMCA-national program that we offer,” Roper YMCA Executive Director Chris Demetriou said. “Swimming is a major, major skill that we feel every kid should have the opportunity to learn.”
The program will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. starting May 23 to 25 and continue the following week from May 28 to June 1. The program is limited to 100 children, and registration is open. Those who are interested can register at the Roper YMCA or at the Maxey Community Center. Spots are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, so individuals are encouraged to sign up immediately, Demetriou said.
“Sign up immediately because … when we offered it at the Roper Y in April, it was incredibly popular,” Demetriou said. “That’s our hope. We want people to sign up for this.”
Demetriou said the Roper YMCA earned the 2018 Florida State Alliance of YMCAs, Inc.Safety Around Water/Swim Lessons Grant, which allows them to offer the program for free.
“We applied for a grant with Y-USA and we were awarded that grant,” Demetriou said. “This is completely free to the community. … We were thrilled to have the support from Y-USA to be able to do this program outside of the Roper Y.”
Demetriou added building the relationship with the city of Winter Garden and the Maxey Community Center is the first step in offering the program outside of the Roper YMCA facility itself.
“We wanted to do our best to help and continue to support the city of Winter Garden,” Demetriou said. “This is the start of us expanding it from just the Roper Y to the city of Winter Garden. … Next year, depending on the impact we’re able to make, we would love to see what an expanded role would look like.”
Demetriou said children who participate in the program “learn three basic umbrella skills” that pertain to water safety: ground rules, water skills and rescue.
“They learn (ground rules such as) how to ask permission before entering the water … always swimming with a parent or adult, sun protection and then any other generic pool rules” Demetriou said. “Some of those water skills include entering the water safely, floating and kicking.”
Additionally, children will learn about breath control and what to do in emergency situations, Demetriou said.
“Of course, there’s the rescue piece which is very important,” Demetriou said. If you have a friend that’s in a serious situation, instead of you jumping in (the water) yourself — because we’re working with kids — find something that floats that we can throw to them to help pull them in.”