The temporary closure of the Chester Ash Memorial Park community pool because of budget constraints and the need for significant repairs has left many in and around Coatesville without a place to swim or attend swimming lessons this summer, but the Brandywine YMCA is stepping up to offer a community-based solution.
With support from the Brandywine Health Foundation, the Brandywine Y will offer free swimming lessons on Fridays from 1-3 p.m. through the end of the summer. To make things even easier, the Y will even provide a ride to the pool.
The free lessons will take place at the Brandywine Y pool, 295 Hurley Road, Coatesville. Participants should register at the branch the Wednesday before, though on-site registration on Fridays will be accommodated.
Transportation to the pool will depart at 12:30 p.m. from Scott Middle School, 800 Olive St., Coatesville, and return swimmers at 3:30 p.m.
The Brandywine Y is part of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, which offers an annual SPLASH/Safety Around Water program to ensure that all children can learn to swim and enjoy the water no matter what their age.
“We firmly believe that teaching children how to swim can have a generational impact,” said Denise L. Day, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “You can literally change lives – even save lives – in entire families by reaching one child. The inspiration to learn how to swim can be infectious, in a positive way.
“We’re grateful that the Brandywine Health Foundation chose to help us fulfill our mission in ensuring financial barriers won’t prevent families from fully enjoying water-based activities that put so much fun into summer,” Day said. “We certainly don’t want tragedies to occur if we’re in the position to help. And these funds will allow us to help even more children and families.”
Wherever there’s water, children will want to explore it, so whenever possible it’s important for children to learn swimming and water safety early.
Experts agree that childhood swimming lessons can potentially reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent among children ages 1 to 4. But in many communities, public pools aren’t available, while privately run pools can be too expensive or hard to reach for residents who already live in underserved areas.
Approximately three children die from drowning every day, making it the second leading cause of death among children ages 5-14. Many of those drowning deaths occur within just 10 feet of safety.
Because 70 percent of African-American children in the same age group don’t know how to swim, they are three times more likely to drown than their white peers, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For Latino children, the numbers are almost as dire, since 60 percent of them don’t know how to swim, either.
Coatesville has one of the largest populations of African-American residents in Pennsylvania, and a growing number of Latino families.
“Our number one priority is to improve the health and well-being of people who live and work in the greater Coatesville area, targeting our grant making to promote health equity, healthy youth and a healthy community,” said Frances Sheehan, president and CEO of the Brandywine Health Foundation.
“The YMCA is truly the premier organization to provide these life-saving swimming skills to the children and families in our community,” Sheehan said. “The board of directors and staff of the Brandywine Health Foundation are proud to partner with the YMCA of Greater Brandywine.”
For details on the free Friday swimming lessons at the Brandywine Y, call 610-380-YMCA (9622), ext. 2480.