71% of the World is Water. 
Children are 100% Curious.

Whether you're playing in a backyard pool, splashing in a bathtub, or cooling off during summer months next to a local stream or river, it just takes a moment. A child or weak swimmer can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a finish line, or apply sunscreen. Teaching children how to swim and be safe in and around water is one of the most important life skills parents can give their children. It not only saves lives; it builds confidence. 

Safety in and around water is an important issue for all of our children, but a disproportionate number of minority children drown each year. At the Y, we believe that safe swimming saves lives and that all children should be equipped with the skills to help them safely enjoy the water. Our Safety Around Water program is one of the many ways we help to make time in and around the water both fun and safe.

Safety Around Water Initiative

Teaching children how to be safe around water is not a luxury; it is a necessity. The YMCA’s Safety Around Water program can help you make sure they learn essential water safety skills, which can open up a world of possibilities for them to satisfy their curiosity safely. At the YMCA of Central New York, programs like this help us bridge the gap in the delivery of swim lessons and water safety education in the U.S.—especially in under-served communities.

The YMCA is dedicated to helping all children grow up safe, happy and healthy. That's why we partnered with the Syracuse City School District and Say Yes to Education to create the Safety Around Water, designed to dramatically cut the number of swim-related fatalities among minorities.

Every summer, our lifeguards and instructors provide hands-on swim safety instruction in city pools to hundreds of Syracuse City School kids. Participants learn how to stay safe in and around the water.

Students who complete the program are equipped to make safe decisions in and around water. By working with others and reaching their own goals, they’ll be more confident and connected.

Through the generosity of donors, we are able to ensure that all kids can enjoy the water. We collect and distribute hundreds of swimsuits to families in need.

Held at the following locations:


Commit to becoming a Water Watcher! Take the Pledge:

  • I will actively watch ALL children
  • I will keep my eyes on the water
  • I will avoid distractions
  • In an emergency, I will pull all children out of the water, call 911, and begin CPR

Swimming Lessons Save Lives

Swimming Lessons Save Lives

Accidental Drownings

Globally, more than 40 people die by drowning every hour of every day. In the U.S., about ten people drown each day. Of those, two are children under age 15.

Leading Cause of Death

More children ages 1-4 years die from drowning than any other cause of death (except birth defects). For all ages, it is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death.

Race & Gender Disparities

The fatal-drowning rate of Black/African-American children is three times higher than white children. 80 percent of those who drown are male.

Lessons for Life

Research has shown that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4 years by up to 88 percent.

Teaching kids to be safe around water is not a luxury, it is a necessity.