Oregon Schools second-graders learn water safety at Eastern Y

Tammy Walro

        Students in 10 second-grade classes in the Oregon City Schools District recently participated in Safety Around Water classes at the Eastern YMCA.
        The 200+ students from Coy, Jerusalem and Starr elementaries attended three 30-minute sessions over an eight-week span.
        The program is made possible through a grant the Eastern Community YMCA received from the Y USA that provided funding to host this swimming initiative and instruct the lessons.
        A grant from the Oregon Schools Foundation’s provided busing from schools to the Oregon Y. 
        “With Oregon being ‘on the bay,’ and living in the Great Lakes Region, lakes, rivers, streams, backyard ponds and pools, are always nearby,” said Dana Wheeler, membership director, Eastern Community and Downtown Toledo YMCA of Greater Toledo, “Children are always curious. The Y has a responsibility in youth development to provide the life skills children need to be safe around water.
        “The Oregon Y has provided the second-grade swim program in prior years, but this is the first time we have had the capacity and funding to offer it for the entire district,” Wheeler said.
        The Safety Around Water classes focus on two lifesaving skills:
        • Swim-Float-Swim teaches children to roll to their back when they get tired so they can call for help and rest.
        • Jump-Push-Turn-Grab teaches children what to do if they fall into deep water accidentally. “They learn to reach for a boat, pier or pool side instead of grabbing another person,” Wheeler said.
        Each lesson started with activities that help students develop confidence and comfort in the water.
        “The second-graders are being taught Safety Around Water skills that will save their lives,” said Beth Konczal, Eastern Community YMCA executive director. “Drowning is the second-leading cause of death for kids ages 5-14.  Eighty-eight percent of kids who drown do so under adult supervision.
        “Drownings are preventable,” she said. “Our partnership with Oregon schools helps us strengthen our kids and community.”
        “Oregon City Schools is thankful for the partnership with the East YMCA, allowing all our second-grade students to participate in swimming and water safety opportunities,” OCS Superintendent Hal Gregory said. “Some of these students would never have this experience if not for the YMCA opening up their pool to our students. OCS is very grateful.”
        “The Oregon Schools Foundation is proud to help bring this fantastic opportunity to Oregon second-graders,” said Amy Hansen, executive director of the Oregon Schools Foundation. “Early discussions revealed this project had a shortfall for the cost of transportation. In September, OSF approved an Impact Grant request that provided transportation to the Eastern YMCA specifically for these lessons.
        “We are honored to be a small piece of the puzzle to help provide instruction on water safety and swim lessons for every second-grader in our district,” she said.


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