SIDNEY — It’s time for local children to have fun in the water while learning valuable life-saving skills when participating in the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA’s free 32nd annual water safety program June 4-7.
Many participants and volunteers return year after year in the program formerly known as “Splash” to learn and teach life saving skills to little ones who will be in and around water this summer.
Splash volunteer and member of the YMCA Stingray swim team, Addison Payne, 13, is returning to help with the class for the third year in a row. She is excited to work among lifeguards and other volunteers to help instruct typically around 400 students this June.
“I really enjoy it. I love helping,” said the daughter of Wendy Mitchell Payne and Jeff Payne, of Sidney. “I was a little nervous (at first), because I’ve never done this before and I was helping little kids learn how to swim. But after the first day, I got the hang of it and everyone was so nice, and I was like ‘I’m doing something so cool. I could help save a kid’s life. This is amazing.’”
Addison said families are around water a lot during the summer at the lake or the pool and feels the class will help children learn how to survive in case of an accident.
“It’s summer and its hot, so a lot of kids like to go to the pool or beaches or boats or going fishing, and sometimes their parents are lenient on life jackets and then they could fall in to the water and drown. And so, I would encourage kids to come (to water safety week) so they could learn about water safety in case something does happen and no one else knows,” Addison said.
As with past years, through out the week children will be taught the “starfish” technique, which teaches youngsters how to float if they are suddenly in a life threatening situation. The program is geared to help children relax and not tense up from fear so they will float.
At the Sidney YMCA, children ages 3-5 are welcome to enroll in the water safety week if accompanied by a parent in the pool to receive instruction.
“It’s super fun. You get to learn about water safety. You get to learn how to properly use life jackets. You get to play games, have fun and it’s a whole bunch of new experiences, and you will love it. It’s going to make playing on the beach and pools a lot more fun,” Addison said of what to expect during the week.
Instructors encourages parents to have their children to attend the all four days of classes. In the past they have noticed that sometimes the first day may seem a little chaotic and not go as smooth as the other three days of classes. However, once everyone figures out the routine of where to go and becoming acquainted with one another, the week goes smoothly.
“It would be very good for them to know (these skills). It could save their life or someone else’s life, and I would encourage kids to come to make them safer,” Addison said for area children to attend Splash the first week of June.
The YMCA pledges to keep kids safe around water and claims to be the first to develop a group swimming instruction program in 1906. Aside from its annual water safety program, through swim lessons, the YMCA teaches over a million children each year “invaluable water safety and swimming skills.”
The YMCA reports three children die every day from drowning as it is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-14.
“Teaching children how to be safe around water is not a luxury; it is a necessity,” says the YMCA’s website. “Seventy-one percent of the world is water; children are 100 percent curious.”
“The YMCA and our sponsors, Sidney Daily News, Minster Bank, Ruese Insurance, and Frickers are thrilled to offer this vital program again to the children and families in our community at no charge because we are passionate about safety around the water. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn and practice water safety skills, especially right before the summer starts, and we invite the community to come to the YMCA the week of June 4 to participate,” said Sidney-Shelby County YMCA Operations Director David O’Leary.
Registration will remain open during the week of water safety week. For more information, contact the YMCA at 937-492-9134.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.