SIDNEY — Local children are about to have fun in the water while learning valuable, life-saving skills when participating in the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA’s free 35th annual water safety program June 7-10. The four-day program is sponsored by the Sidney Daily News, Minster Bank, Ruese Insurance and Frickers.
Many participants and volunteers return year after year in the program to learn and teach life-saving skills to little ones who will be in and around water this summer.
Megan Burns, of Sidney, said this is the second year, out of the last three years, she and her husband Nathan’s five-year-old daughter Caroline will participate in the program. Caroline loves to be in the water and is excited about water safety week, she said.
Children ages 3-5, who have not completed kindergarten, are welcome, but must be accompanied by a parent in the water.
Burns spoke about the drowning of a child in Shelby County a few years ago, and noted it is a reminder of the importance for Caroline to learn water safety.
“We have a pool, and last summer she just really took off and learned to swim But I still think water safety (lessons) is important. And I think the last time the fire department came and tried to teach them about water safety too,” Burns said.
Firefighters with the Sidney Fire Department explained to children about the dangers of fast rising flood waters and demonstrated how to be safe near the river or pools.
Caroline loves to be in the water, Burns said, and hopes every year her daughter participates in the program she will have the lessons learned instilled.
“She is very excited. She is so excited, and she also attends summer camp at the YMCA ,so they swim everyday,” Burns said.
Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Water Safety Week was held virtually where students could log online to watch videos and learn about water safety. This year the program will return to its normal routine in person and in the pool.
“We will be running (the program) the same as normal in the pool, except with (current) state and health department (COVID-19) guidelines in place,” YMCA Aquatics and Youth Coordinator Sonia Jaziri said.
This year’s theme, from the Disney movie Moana, is “Hei Hei: Be prepared.” Each day through out the week children will learn one of the core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Throughout the week, children and parents will notice the theme and their colored core values decorate the walls in the pool and commonly traveled areas.
Jaziri encourages parents of young children to join the free program that is open to the public. Parents do not need to be YMCA members for their children to participate.
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.
“They will be having fun while learning in the pool,” she said. “We are going to teach 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.”
The YMCA pledges to keep kids safe around water and claims to be the first to develop a group swimming instruction program in 1909. 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.”
“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.”
For more information, contact the YMCA at 937-492-9134.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.