The Washington Local School District is partnering with the YMCA to provide swim lessons and life skills training for second graders in Silver Creek and Meadowvale.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death from unintentional injuries among children ages 5-14 in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that 4,000 people in the U.S. die each year from drowning. 1000 of them are children. Due to the fact that Washington Local School District is committed to keeping its students safe and countering these statistics by offering swimming lessons.

The eight-week program began Tuesday for second-graders at Silver Creek and Meadowvale elementary schools. Meadowvale Principal Melissa Hall said they are working with the West Toledo and Francis family YMCA places

“Our Greenwood principal, Bill Cullen, has long dreamed of hosting a swim for all of our local students in Washington,” Hall said.

The classes are optional for second year students, but the school encourages all families to check them out and consider enrolling.

“It was a truly wonderful experience for us to see our students who have never been in the water, who are afraid of water, overcome that fear and have such joy in playing, learning and being around their friends and peers. the whole district,” Hall said.

Students take classes at the YMCA pools. Each session lasts 45 minutes, with 30 minutes of instruction and 15 minutes of play, and students are divided into three groups based on skill level. After that, they are returned to school.

“We provide transportation to and from the (YMCA). The district provided all students with a drawstring bag, towel and swimwear, and swim caps when needed,” Hall said.

Hall said the district already had success with swim classes at other elementary schools last fall, so she’s happy they were able to bring it back.

Thomas, who is the son of 5th grade teacher Colleen Aiken, is among 60 students receiving the lessons. He said he had good swimming experience, but the lessons taught him how to get in and out and tread water.

Thomas says his favorite part is the last 15 minutes.

“We have time to swim and have fun,” he said.

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