The West Cook YMCA is offering water safety lessons for 300 second- and third-graders enrolled in public school in Forest Park, River Forest and Maywood, as a way to reduce the risk of drowning and increase confidence around water. Students who enroll in the free class will receive a free membership to the Y, and their parents will receive free passes to the organization too.  

“Seventy percent of the globe is water, and 100 percent of kids are curious,” said Phillip Jimenez, president of the West Cook Y. “It’s not only just about safety. What if you get invited to a pool party and maybe a youth is then excluded from those activities? How does that isolate a child from other experiences and opportunities? How do we create recreational passion for aquatics?”

Drowning is the second most common cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And children from lower-income families are five times more likely to drown. Sixty percent of children who drown are within 10 feet of safety, and 60 percent of youth drownings occur in 10 feet of water.    

The organization received a grant from the USA Swimming Foundation, and allocated $60,000 of their own funding to bring the program to life.

“It’s great to work, in an environment in today’s context, in which folks are more focused on breaking down barriers to create access,” Jimenez said. 

The five summer sessions start June 10 and run for 40 minutes every Monday through Thursday. Email to sign up.

Nona Tepper

Join the discussion on social media!