With drowning the leading cause of accidental death for children at the early elementary-school age, the Wabash County YMCA has established the YMCA Water Safety Initiative.
Building on a foundation of more than 100 years of swim instruction, the YMCA seeks to ensure that every Wabash County 4th grader has the opportunity to participate in free swimming and water safety lessons as part of the school day. This initiative has the aggressive goal of eliminating drownings through water safety education and awareness, and by teaching swimming skills. The YMCA will provide seven weeks of water safety education and swimming lessons to every fourth grader in Wabash, which equates to approximately 420 youth.
Important water safety statistics, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Drowning is the number one cause (non automotive) of accidental death for kids ages 1 – 14
- Over 1,100 kids drown each year in the United States
- Three children die every day due to drowning
- An estimated 5,000 kids are hospitalized due to near drowning
- Up to 20% of those who are hospitalized suffer severe and permanent disability
- 70% of all preschoolers who drown are in the care of one or both parents at the time of drowning
- An estimated 4,174 persons are treated for nonfatal unintentional drowning injuries in recreational water settings every year
- About half of all drownings occur in natural water settings such as lakes and rivers
- At least 43% of all recreational water drowning occurred in natural water settings, which is almost three times the number of drowning occurring in swimming pools every year
Those statistics, when added to the high number of bodies of water in Wabash County, pointed to the need for water safety in our community and resulted in the Wabash County YMCA and Wabash City Schools forming a partnership to provide water safety education and swim lessons to all fourth graders in Wabash City Schools.