Program to teach Richmond County second-graders to swim

The Family Y of Greater Augusta and The Salvation Army of Augusta Kroc Center announced Thursday a partnership that will provide a free water safety course to all 2,555 Richmond County second-graders.

The water safety course, named SPLASH, will take place at the indoor pools of the Wilson Family Y and the Family Y of Downtown Augusta beginning Monday and at the Kroc Center of Augusta beginning Jan. 23. The lessons will be offered during school hours, and free transportation will be provided between school and the three locations.

SPLASH is a one-hour-per-day, five-day course that teaches children to be safe around water. SPLASH is an acronym for “Swim, Play and Learn Aquatics Safety Habits” and is a national YMCA initiative. Children enrolled in the course will learn how to recognize a lifeguard at a pool, identify and respond to someone drowning and call 911, be safe around water, and other basic water awareness skills that could save someone’s life.

The Family Y has offered SPLASH as a free community service during the past two summers. More than 1,000 children learned life-saving skills through participation. However, the Y wanted to broaden the scope of the program and invited the Kroc Center to help in approaching the Richmond County Board of Education for collaboration.

“We are thrilled to know that every second-grader in Richmond County will have the opportunity to learn these basic safety skills,” said Danny McConnell, the president and CEO of The Family Y. “We selected second-graders as our target audience because drowning is the second-leading cause of childhood deaths. First-graders are still adjusting to beginning school and third grade is a testing year. Second-graders are at the perfect age to develop a love of the water while learning skills that will last a lifetime.”

“The Kroc Center partnered with The Family Y to offer SPLASH because part of our mission is to provide programs that will promote positive, life changing experiences,” said Heather Linn-Altman, the health and wellness manager for the Kroc Center. “The entire community will benefit from the program because the skills learned by the students not only help the student, but also all those they could potentially save including teachers, classmates, friends and parents.”

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