YMCAs Adopting a Statewide Safety Around Water Initiative

The YMCAs in Massachusetts have made a collective commitment to impact at-risk children by adopting a statewide Safety Around Water Initiative aimed at increasing water safety intelligence and strengthening overall water utilization practices in youth.

Massachusetts YMCAs set out to accomplish this goal by utilizing $400,000 of their Fiscal Year 2018 Youth-at-Risk allocation to partner with each other as well as the community and statewide organizations to offer education, training, employment, and swim instruction to the community’s most vulnerable populations.

Water Safety has been a priority for The YMCA of Greater Boston. In 2017, our Y’s have been able to offer jobs and certified lifeguard training for at-risk youth at their facilities. The additional funding will allow Ys to reach more children and help prevent more drownings.

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14, and nationally, one in five people who die from drowning are under the age of 14. This is further influenced by external risk factors including age, low socioeconomic status, and lack of higher education, and has the greatest impact on ethnic minorities and rural populations.

The YMCA of Greater Boston has taken great strides to address these inequities through targeted efforts to provide swim instruction and lifeguard training to at-risk and immigrant communities. In the past year our YMCA’s have successfully provided swim lessons to over 726 youth in communities such as Woburn, Reading, Waltham, Brighton, Needham, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown, Camp Ponkapoag. Over $50,000 was provided in scholarships to support swim instruction for families of children under the age of 12.

Research by the National Autism Association has further demonstrated that accidental drowning adversely affects children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with Autism are 160 times more likely to suffer drowning fatalities than the general pediatric population, and in 2009, 2010, and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% of injury-related deaths in children with Autism. The YMCA of Greater Boston has recognized this disheartening statistic, and offer swim instruction to 150 number of children with Autism under the supervision well-trained staff.

Through persistent efforts, Massachusetts YMCAs hope to continue to serve the community’s most at-risk youth through offering the education and instruction necessary to promote water safety for all.




The YMCA of Greater Boston is one of Massachusetts leading nonprofits committed to strengthening communities by improving health, empowering youth and activating people for good. Every day the Y works with thousands of men, women, and children to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has access to Y programs and services.   As the nation’s fifth largest charity, the Y is creating a community of caring people through meaningful memberships. For more than 165 years, the Y has been developing skills and emotional well-being through education and training, welcoming and connecting diverse populations, preventing chronic disease and building healthier communities. The YMCA of Greater Boston is America’s first Y. Find us at www.YMCABo

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