SIDNEY – The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA’s 34th annual Water Safety Program, previously known as Splash, will be held virtually this year due to the coronavirus.
The program is sponsored by Sidney Daily News, in cooperation with Minster Bank and Ruese Insurance. The program will be held for all local children June 1-4.
“Water Safety Week is on! This year’s (program) will be a Virtual Water Safety Week,” said YMCA Aquatics and Youth Coordinator Sonia Jaziri by email when announcing this year’s program. “Each day there will be fun videos; specific safety topic will be addressed, and activities, coloring and writing contests and other online resources.”
The four-day program is free of charge for children who are in kindergarten up to the sixth grade, with costs incurred by the sponsors. For the past 34 years, the Sidney Daily News has been a major sponsor.
Preregistration for the program is optional this year. Registration is underway by calling the YMCA at 937-492-9134 or at the YMCA’s website at www.sidney-ymca.org . Those that pre-register will be entered into a drawing for a free gift. Families need not be members of the YMCA to register.
The program originally began as the need arose to teach basic safety skills after a child drowned over 30 years ago. Typically, between 300 to 400 children attend the 45 minute daily class to learn the basics of pool, boating, and beach safety, as well as basic swimming and rescue skills from volunteer instructors and YMCA staff members.
This year, for everyone’s safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, classes will be held virtually. Videos will be posted online each day at 10 a.m. on the YMCA’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/Sidneyymca and its website. Children can log on at anytime throughout the day to watch the videos. Children will learn how to be safe around a pool, water parks, the beach and boats, and what to do in emergency situations. Kids will also be given at-home activities to help reinforce water safety.
“It’s very important safety. We are going to go over the same things (as with years past) to do your starfish,” said Jaziri.
Each year, a goal of the program is for children to leave with the “starfish” technique, which is floating on their back.
“We are shooting videos more close to the kids’ reality right now. They won’t be in the Y’s pool, so (the videos) will be shot at the river, lake, and backyard pool where kids are close to the water. It will include the Sidney Fire Department teaching safety at the lake and in kayaks.”
Students will also learn the importance of getting permission before getting into the water and be reminded that an adult should always be present. The “Reach, Throw, Don’t Go” method water rescue skills will be taught. This method explains how to help a friend, who may have fallen in, without the child needing to jump into the water. The and aside from water safety, they will also learn the about hydration and skin care.
“Families need perhaps even more support this year. Whether pools and parks are open or not, kids will be in and around water. During this summer of small groups and social distancing, water activities are more likely to occur without the same level of observation,” said Jaziri.
According to the YMCA, drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children 14 and under.
“The world is 71% water, and children are 100% curious,” the Water Safety Week flyer says.
As with past years, and all programs at the Y, the YMCA’s core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility will be integrated into the daily water safety week activities.
“Sidney and Shelby County residents care about our children and families. We are here for them. The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA is here for them. We are so excited,” Jaziri said.
“The Sidney Daily News is proud to continue to sponsor the YMCA’s Water Safety Week Program, now in its 34th year,” said Natalie Buzzard, general manager and advertising director of the Sidney Daily News. “Despite this year’s program being held virtually, we hope the collaborative efforts of the Sidney Daily News, Minster Bank and Ruese Insurance, will provide the opportunity for area children to still learn life-saving water safety skills as summer approaches.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.