SIDNEY – The Sidney Daily News, in cooperation with Minster Bank, Ruese Insurance and Frickers, will sponsor the 35th annual Water Safety Program for all local children June 7-10 at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, 300 Parkwood St.
The four-day program is free of charge to children who are at least 3 years old up to the sixth grade, with costs incurred by the sponsors. For the past 35 years, the Sidney Daily News has been a major sponsor.
Registration is required for the program. Registration is underway, online only this year, at the YMCA’s website at https://sidney-ymca.org/swimming
Participants may choose their desired class time, but sessions will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. Families need not be members of the YMCA to register. Children ages 3-5, who have not completed kindergarten, are welcome to enroll but must be accompanied by a parent in the water.
This years’s theme, from the Disney movie Moana, is “Hei Hei: Be prepared.”
Students will learn the basics of pool, boating and beach safety, as well as basic swimming and rescue skills from volunteer instructors and YMCA staff members.
Although typically between 300 to 400 children attend the 45 minute annual program, this year, because of COVID-19 precautions, the number of participants will be reduced by half, YMCA Aquatics and Youth Coordinator Sonia Jaziri said.
“We will be running (the program) the same as normal in the pool, except with the state and health department (COVID-19) guidelines in place,” Jaziri said.
The YMCA will implement social distancing and require masks to be worn when not in the pool. Jaziri said Ziplock bags will be available on the side of the pool for students to store their masks while in the water.
In 2020, the program was virtual for students to log online each day and view videos to learn water safety.
Jaziri confirmed, as with years past, one of the goals of the program is for children to leave with the “starfish” technique, which is floating on their back. Children will learn how to save themselves, as well as safety tactics to help a friend without having to jump into the water.
“We are going to teach (attendees) how to be safe around water, to float and save themself or others if near the back yard pool, a lake or ocean and accidentally fall into the water. They will learn how to lean something (like a pool noodle) into the water and help pull someone to safety without getting into the water,” Jaziri said.
Aside from water safety, they also are taught the stroke technique and the importance of skin care.
The program originally began as the need arose to teach basic safety skills after a child drowned 30 years ago. Many participants have no swim lessons prior to the first day of water safety classes. Many children repeat the program each year.
Each day throughout the week, children will learn one of the YMCA’s core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. At the end of each class, each child will get a piece of paper with the program’s theme and value tied together and are asked to color the picture a certain color of which they had exhibited that day.
Children will notice throughout the week the “Hei Hei: Be prepared” theme and their returned/colored core values decorate the walls of the pool and commonly traveled areas. At the end of the week, each participant will receive a certificate of completion.
“The Sidney Daily News is excited to again be part of the YMCA’s Water Safety Program,” said Natalie Buzzard, general manager and advertising director of the Sidney Daily News. “The collaborative efforts between Sidney Daily News, Minster Bank, Ruese Insurance and Frickers will provide local children the opportunity to gain life-saving safety skills when around water.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.