JPS UPK Students Benefit from YMCA Swimming Program


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Jamestown Public Schools

UPK students from the Heritage House program had the fantastic opportunity to learn basic safety such as jumping in and finding the wall, back floating, and swimming across the pool at the YMCA. UPK three- and four-year-olds from across Jamestown participate in the basic safety lessons and are often swimming for the first time.

“Our goal for them is that at the end of the school year they will know what to do if they get in a bad situation, know how to avoid the bad situation and hopefully swim good enough to get out of the situation,” said YMCA Aquatics Director Jason Chinni. “ It is the best way we can get these kids exposed at a young age to water. In this area, we have a lake, rivers and pools and no formal aquatic education. This is a great start before they get to second grade where they come back for our safety day.”

Since the community is surrounded by water, it is important for local children to have water safety skills. Over 3,500 people drown each year in the US. One out of every five of those deaths are children under the age of 14 (that is 730 children). Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury related death in 1-14 year olds. Those alarming statistics are what drove the Jamestown YMCA to begin their aquatic safety programs.

The second grade program is a hands-on learning experience where students learn three distinct components: rules and personal safety, helping others, and boating safety including lifejackets. Each component consists of group discussion and practicing skills in the water. Every child participates in all parts both in and out of the water ending with a review of what was learned and a short recreational swim. Students receive a participation lanyard and coloring sheets that reiterate the lessons learned throughout the hour and a half. Over the past eight years, the YMCA has taught over 2,800 second grade students how to help themselves, and others in and around water and ice. Trained YMCA staff and lifeguards conduct all of the interactive activities. The second grade programs are funded through the YMCA’s annual Partner with Youth campaign.

The goal of both programs is to expose Jamestown School District’s students to swimming and empower them to keep themselves safe around water.