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Community organizations share the programs they’re offering to raise awareness around National Water Safety Month in May.

The department of Parks and Recreation at Prince George’s County celebrates May as National Water Safety Month. The month-long annual awareness campaign highlights water safety education and the importance of access to learn-to-swim programs in the community.

“Children not exposed to swimming and water safety are more likely to drown than children who have taken swimming lessons and water safety courses,” said Tara Eggleston Stewart, the aquatics and athletic facilities division chief at the department in a statement. “Learning to swim, becoming water competent, and participating in water safety can play a vital role in changing these statistics in Prince George’s County.”

Parents are invited to participate in Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers, a free online course from the American Red Cross to help develop awareness of risks and how to minimize the danger of drowning or water-related injuries, especially for young children. The department also offers swim lessons for all ages and skill levels.

Additional programming for Water Safety Month at Prince George’s County includes:

  • An aquatics job fair where prospects can meet facility managers, interview for immediate job opportunities and complete an in-water pre-course skills assessment for free lifeguard training.
  • Water safety sessions, including free water safety information and the opportunity for parents and children to participate in an interactive Red Cross WHALE Tales session.

At the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, drowning prevention is serious business. This is why it’s bringing awareness to Water Safety Month through education.

For the past two summers, many families have chosen not to participate in swim lessons – or have had trouble finding availability for them due to short supply – causing many children not to be as strong at swimming for their age. The Charlotte Y is sharing it has open lessons and can give parents tips about how to use pools for vigilant play time to get kids comfortable around water while understanding their limits. The Y also has five “zero-entry” pools which can help kids build comfort and confidence.

The Y is also spreading awareness about the lack of lifeguards due to staffing issues. To combat the issue, the Charlotte Y is offering to take care of training and certifications for potential lifeguards as long as they know the basics of swimming. Last summer, the Y raised its minimum wage for lifeguards to $10 per hour. Y employees also get free membership, including access to all 17 branches, and discounted programming.

To prepare for the busy 2022 swim season, the North Suburban YMCA (NSYMCA) is training and certifying new lifeguards. Taught by Red Cross Lifeguard Instructors, the certification classes, held at the Y’s indoor pool includes 20 hours of classroom and in-water skills instruction.

Minimum requirements for those seeking to become pool guards include being able to swim 300 consecutive yards, tread water for two minutes hands-free, and complete a successful underwater brick retrieval exercise. In addition to training new lifeguards, the Red Cross course is available to anyone with a lapsed lifeguard certification who wants to become re-certified.

Through its swim lessons and water safety classes, the NSYMCA has been highly focused on drowning prevention. “The NSYMCA took on the lifeguard certifications to help our community stay safe around water,” said Missy Contri, an aquatics director at NSYMCA in a statement. “The best lifeguards don’t have that many saves because they’re busy preventing them. Prevention is key. Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14 years old. No child should ever be left unsupervised near any water.”

The Y’s indoor pool is home to its comprehensive aquatics program, with swim instruction, fitness classes and lap swimming. The Y’s swim teachers provide personalized instruction in private and group settings for individuals of all ages and ability levels. Along with program offerings for individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities, the Y has an aquatics Special Services Swim Program for individuals ages three to adult, and a Special Olympics swim team.

Is your organization offering Water Safety Month programming? Share to brittany@peakemedia.com.


Photo courtesy of NSYMCA: Taught by Red Cross lifeguard instructors, the North Suburban YMCA is certifying over 100 lifeguards for the 2022 summer swim season.

Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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