The Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA, a Branch of the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, is offering Safety Around Water, a free program designed to engage and educate parents about the importance of water safety skills and provide more of America’s youth access to water safety lessons.

According to data from the USA Swimming Foundation, 70% of African American and 60% of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to just 40% of Caucasian children. While fatal drowning is a concern for all children — it’s the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to 14 years old — African American children ages 5 to 14 are three times more likely to drown than their white counterparts.

Through Safety Around Water, parents and caregivers will be encouraged to help their children learn fundamental water safety and swimming skills. During the course, children will learn how to respond if they find themselves in unexpected water situations -- from how to reach the water’s surface if they submerge to safely reaching a pool’s edge or exiting any body of water.

“All children deserve access to water safety resources and Safety Around Water is a great starting point to not only get kids comfortable in the water, but also develop a love of swimming,” said David Stevenson, Central Connecticut Coast YMCA President & CEO. “In many communities, staying safe around water means keeping kids away from water, but water safety and swimming are important life skills that need fostering in all children”

The Y introduced the concept of group swim lessons in 1909. Now, each year in 2,200 pools across the country, the Y teaches more than a million children from all backgrounds invaluable water safety and swim skills. The Central Connecticut Coast Y taught 8,975 children water safety and swimming in 2015. Through Safety Around Water, the Y hopes to further bridge cultural and access gaps that can prevent some children from learning important water safety skills.

Families interested in learning more about Safety Around Water and how to enroll their child in local Y swimming and water safety classes should visit www.cccymca.org