BOISE – With the great weather ahead of us and many schools taking the last week for spring break that has a lot of us wanting to spend more time in the water. But for young kids across the country, drowning is at the top of the list when it comes to accidental deaths.
One organization is fighting that with a very simple solution.
The Downtown Boise YMCA just wrapped up a week of discounted swim lessons for the spring break week. They're discounted because the non-profit organization believes that too many Idaho kids drown simply because they don't know how to swim. The YMCA is trying to reverse that trend and reach toward the goal of zero kids drowning.
To kids, water is fun. It's splashing, sliding and floating. To parents, like Katrina Barber, the water can also be scary.
"I've had to rescue them several times in friends' pools when they don't know how to swim very well, because they think they can do it and they can't, and you have to jump in and grab them," said Barber.
That's why, for the last week, she's brought her kids to the Downtown Boise YMCA for discounted swim lessons, $15 for the week.
"It's where we get kids ready for the summer to be safe in and around our canals and our waterways," said Michal Kapuscinski, Downtown Boise YMCA Aquatic Director.
Michal Kapuscinski is passionate about the swim lessons. It’s how he says they will reverse the trend of children drowning.
The drowning statistics are grim. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accidental drowning is one of the leading causes of death for kids one to 14 years old. Kapuscinski says Idaho ranks third in the nation for accidental drowning.
"We're a land locked state," said Kapuscinski. "That's just, as a YMCA, that's not good enough. We're about social responsibility and healthy living, and for us to be that high in accidental death from drowning, in the state of Idaho, it’s unacceptable."
The CDC says something as simple as these swim lessons can save a life. Kapuscinski agrees.
"So it's not just about swimming. It's about developing strong youth. It's about investing," said Kapuscinski. "You're investing in an asset. You're investing in the future of this valley and the future of our community. You're investing in strong, confident, safe kids."
An investment that Barber believes is well worth her 45 minute commute from Idaho City.
"My kids usually swim in the reservoir, and we hardly ever swim in a pool with a life guard, so it's important to me because I like them to know how to swim and be able to float and be comfortable in the water so I don't have to fear that they're going to drown," said Barber.
If you weren't able to take part in the discounted swim lessons at the YMCA, it will likely offer other discounted lessons sometime later this summer. In addition to the discounted swim lessons, YMCA offers lessons year-round, with more classes starting Monday.
You don't have to be a member to take swim lessons at the Y. In fact for the last week, most of the 378 kids who took swim lessons were not members.
As it is with all YMCA services, they make it a point to say they will never turn anyone away because of inability to pay.
Click here if you want information on YMCA swim lessons.
Click here if you want information on Boise City swim lessons and dates for when the city pools will open.