African-American children face three times greater risk of drowning

Pine Hills YMCA program makes swimming lessons a priority


ORLANDO, Fla. – In Central Florida water is everywhere.
Even if you don't have a pool your neighbor does or there's a body of water in your community.

That's why the local YMCAs have always taken water safety seriously, but now they're especially worried by a growing trend. Seventy percent of African-American children don't know how to swim.

The CDC also reports African-American children are at three times greater risk of drowning than other children the same age.

Andrea Lee, the program director of the Wayne Densch YMCA in Pine Hills says it's often because of fear.

"They get in the water, and they just panic, because somebody as a child, as they grew up, told them that the water is a dangerous place to be around," said Lee.

The Pine Hills YMCA is determined to change that perception, and swimming lessons and drowning prevention are now priority number one.

"We're constantly in the community, going into schools, reaching out to churches, and teaching water safety," said Lee.

Parents and children can even take classes together so everyone learns the basics.

"We teach developmental swim lessons, from how to put your face in the water, to how to blow bubbles, how to kick your feet properly," said Erin Chansky, a swimming instructor for the Pine Hills YMCA.

All good lessons, but the most important one for this community to understand is the sooner the kids learn to swim the safer they'll be.

"The sooner you get them in the water, the better, because children under the age of 4 actually have an 88 percent chance of survival if they have participate in swimming lessons, as opposed to not participating in swimming lessons," said Chansky.

Those classes at the Wayne Densch YMCA cost 70-dollars for a 4-week session and 100 for an 8-week session. Members are charged less.