The Newton YMCA recently received a grant from the Jasper Community Foundation for $2,250 to help with the cost of the Safety Around Water (SAW) program for all the second graders in the Newton Community School District and home schooled students.
This will be the second year for the SAW program, which is designed to teach young children the essentials of how to be safe in water. YMCA Director of operations Lucas Hughes said there are other purposes as well.
“We see that all the time. Kids just never being exposed to bodies of water,” Hughes said.
YMCA staff sees the importance for the water safety program because of Iowa’s abundant bodies of water that children may come in contact with at one point or another.
“What we found was a lot of kids have not even been exposed to anything other than a hotel pool or just the basics,” fitness and aquatics director Hannah Bartlett said.
Hughes added, “You wouldn’t believe how many second graders will not put their head underneath water because they are afraid of it.”
According to Hughes and Bartlett, the program costs roughly $6,000 to run. The foundation’s grant will help the Newton YMCA continue to offer this program to families for free.
“I got so many calls asking, ‘Is this really free?’” Bartlett said.
With the extensive documentation of Iowa YMCA’s struggling to keep its doors open, this grant is important to the continuation of the programs at the Newton YMCA and the community support is welcomed.
“To have such community support for this program alone is fantastic,” Hughes said.
Both Hughes and Bartlett said they saw roughly 200 second graders during last year’s SAW program. They figure they will see about the same amount when the program kicks-off again in March.
“We just hope that we have continued support and that more people get to see what the YMCA is doing for their community,” Hughes said.
When the program resumes, the pool will fill up with eager second graders ready to swim and learn all the safety tips about water and how to rescue others who may be in danger such as throw don’t go.
“If you ask any of our third graders now, if you ask them what ‘throw don’t go’ is, they would all get on their bellies,” Bartlett said. “It’s exciting for them to think that they are learning something of value in a fun environment.”
For more information about the Newton YMCA SAW or other program, visit newtonymca.org.
Contact Dustin Teays at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org