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Preventing drowning a top priority for YMCAs

Temperatures are rising, and pools will open soon to enthusiastic water bugs of all ages. Starting my YMCA career as a lifeguard over 25 years ago, I know firsthand the importance of keeping kids safe around the water.

As I watched thousands of children learn swimming skills that will last a lifetime, I also witnessed the self-esteem and confidence coupled with smiles as they gained a sense of accomplishment.

Preventing drowning is a top priority at YMCAs across the country, especially since fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children 1 to 14 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children ages 1 to 4 die from drowning more than any other cause of death.

This problem is particularly prevalent among minority communities. For example, African American children ages 5 to 14 are three times more likely to drown than their Caucasian counterparts. The disparity is partly due to these children’s lack ...

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