The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas

For Youth Development ®
For Healthy Living
For Social Responsibility

YMCA Teaches Life Saving Skills To Kids


(DALLAS, TEXAS  - MAY 16, 2014) 


Today, the Center for Disease Control released a report on racial /ethnic disparities in fatal unintentional drownings.  More than 4,000 people die each year as a result of drowning in the United States and it continues to be the leading cause of accidental death among child ages 1 to 4.  But more glaring is the new data, from a 1999 to 2010 study, which shows disparities were greatest in swimming pools, with drowning rates among Blacks aged 5 to 19 years were 5.5 times higher than those among Whites in the same age group.  It goes on to say the disparity is greatest at ages 11 to 12 years, with Blacks drown in swimming pools at 10 times the rate of whites.


Again this summer, the YMCA will provide thousands of swimming lessons to minority children in the community. The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas signature program, the Urban Swim Initiative, works to decrease the number of swim related fatalities in minority communities by providing swim lessons to children at no cost. Since 2004,  more than 20,000 kids from South and West Dallas have learned to swim through the Urban Swim Program.


The program outcomes compel us to continue to grow this initiative and reach even more children and families.  Only if we are successful in helping parents understand how critical these skills are to the safety and well-being of their children, will we make real progress. 


Another component of Urban Swim is the Make a Splash program which takes place in apartment community pools around North, South and West Dallas, Vickery Meadows, White Rock/East Dallas, Irving, Grand Prairie and Plano.


Make a Splash is a swim lesson outreach program provided at low-income apartment communities. Many times children are left unsupervised in apartment communities around swimming pools. Using apartment community pools, YMCA Dallas staff actively engage and teach children from area communities to swim. In 2013 alone, the Dallas YMCA offered these lessons at 118 apartment community pools where over 3,000 kids were taught to swim by certified YMCA instructors.


“Nearly 60 percent of minority children can’t swim and minority children are five and a half times more likely to drown,” said Gordon Echtenkamp, President/CEO of the Dallas YMCA. “Safety in and around the water is an important issue for all children, but studies show that there are a disproportionate number of drownings among minority children. The Dallas YMCA is committed to children’s safety and helping parents to understand how critical these skills are to the safety and well-being of their children.”


On the first day of lessons held in 2013, most of the children failed the basic survival skills test. However, after the children completed the lessons, a swim assessment showed 95% of kids could climb out of the pool independently, 66% of kids could stream-line kick on their stomach with their face in the water up to 15 feet, and 73% of kids could jump in deep water and return to the wall.  According to the CDC, children who have swim lessons are 88% less likely to drown.


Make A Splash  will take place all summer at various apartment complexes throughout Dallas and Urban Swim is offered at the South and West Dallas YMCAs. For more information on YMCA swim programs, call 214-880-9622.



The Y

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,687 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  Anchored in 23 North Texas communities, the Dallas Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.