YMCA announces expansion of 2nd Grade Swim Initiative

The program now includes testing for any child who is past first grade and still cannot swim

YMCA of Bucks County recently announced the expansion of its 2nd Grade Swim Initiative (2GI) program to include testing for any child who is past first grade and still cannot swim.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Bucks County Orthodontics and Jackson’s Heroes Foundation are partnering with YMCA of Bucks County to expand the program to benefit all children in Bucks County. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning remains the leading cause of death in young children and knowing how to swim and be safe around water is an important skill for youth.

For Andrea Cole, who runs Jackson’s Heroes Foundation, supporting the program is deeply personal.

“The mission of our organization is to remember the life of my son Jackson, who lost his life in a drowning accident in June 2016,” Cole said. “For me, there is no more meaningful way than to provide children with the skills necessary to become a safe swimmer.”

On Oct. 13, Jackson’s Heroes Foundation will host its fourth annual 5K and fun run event in Warminster to benefit the swim safety program.

The expanded program provides in-water testing where students are evaluated in alignment with the Y-USA “Safety Around Water” rubric. Youth qualify for further programming based on their ability to enter the pool, tread water and pull themselves into a floating position, as well as using their arms for forward motion to get them safely to the wall.

Collectively, the organizations are distributing a swim safety flyer in both English and Spanish and offering free swim lessons to children who qualify. The program runs through Nov. 30, with lessons provided at the Y’s Doylestown, Fairless Hills and Quakertown branches. The flyer also provides tips for parents and caregivers and realistic statistics about the risks of drowning.

“We are so grateful for the partnership of these like-minded community organizations,” said Trish Feinthel, chief operations officer at YMCA of Bucks County. “Safety is our No. 1 priority and we are proud to help community families in teaching their children to swim and be safe around water.”

In 2016, the Y (then Central Bucks Family YMCA) launched the 2nd Grade Swim Initiative program in partnership with Central Bucks and Centennial school districts. That year, the Y evaluated more than 1,000 second-graders for swim safety and provided water safety lessons and a month of Y membership to children who qualified. Continuing the testing annually, 33 percent of students tested since 2016 still qualified for swim safety lessons.

For more information on the program or to register, visit ymcabucks.org/2GI