New Partnership Brings Swim Lessons to Students in South Puget Sound

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    by Sidney Hunt
    Published: June 15, 2024 (1 month ago)

    In an exciting development for the South Puget Sound community, a new partnership between local schools and the YMCA has been established to provide free swim lessons to students. This initiative aims to promote water safety, boost confidence, and ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn a vital life skill.

    Bridging the Gap in Water Safety

    The partnership, announced at a press conference held at the Tacoma Center YMCA, brings together the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties and the Tacoma Public Schools. Recognizing the critical importance of water safety, especially in a region surrounded by water, the program will offer swim lessons to elementary and middle school students across the district.

    “Our goal is to eliminate barriers and provide all children with access to swim lessons,” said Charlie Davis, President and CEO of YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties. “Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death among children, and through this partnership, we aim to equip our students with the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe in and around water.”

    Program Details and Implementation

    The swim lessons will be integrated into the physical education curriculum for students in grades K-8. Each student will receive a series of lessons tailored to their skill level, from beginners to more advanced swimmers. Lessons will be held at YMCA pools as well as at selected community centers with swimming facilities.

    Superintendent Carla Santorno of Tacoma Public Schools highlighted the importance of the program, stating, “This partnership is about more than just teaching kids to swim. It’s about providing equity and access to important life skills. Many of our students have never had the chance to take swim lessons due to financial constraints or lack of access. This program changes that.”

    Community Support and Engagement

    The initiative has received overwhelming support from parents, local businesses, and community leaders. Parents have expressed gratitude for the program, noting that it not only ensures their children’s safety but also promotes physical fitness and confidence.

    “We’re thrilled to see such a positive response from the community,” said Davis. “We’ve had local businesses step up to provide funding and resources, and volunteers from the community have offered to assist with lessons. It’s truly a community effort.”

    Local businesses have played a significant role in supporting the program through sponsorships and donations. One notable contributor is Northwest Swimwear, a local retailer, which has donated swim gear for students who may not have access to appropriate swimwear.

    Lifelong Benefits

    The benefits of learning to swim extend beyond immediate safety. Studies have shown that children who participate in swim lessons tend to develop better motor skills, increased fitness levels, and higher self-esteem. Furthermore, swimming is a lifelong skill that promotes overall health and well-being.

    As part of the program, the YMCA will also offer water safety workshops for parents and guardians. These workshops will provide essential information on how to keep children safe around water, both at home and in the community.

    Looking Ahead

    The swim lessons initiative is set to launch in the upcoming fall semester, with plans to expand to additional schools and communities in the future. The long-term vision for the program includes reaching every child in the South Puget Sound region, ensuring that all students have the skills and confidence to enjoy water activities safely.

    “We’re just getting started,” said Superintendent Santorno. “Our vision is to create a culture of water safety and confidence in our community. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn to swim, and through this partnership, we’re making that a reality.”

    For more information about the swim lessons program and how to get involved, visit the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties website or contact Tacoma Public Schools.

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