CLEVELAND — Summer is in full swing and that means families across Northeast Ohio will spend their afternoons cooling off at the pool. But before many go to the pool or beach, they're enrolled in swimming lessons first. And every little bit helps.
According to research from USA Swimming, one month of formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in children by 88%.
"It is a life long and life saving skill," said Phillip Hearne, the aquatics director for the YMCA of Greater Cleveland. "It is one of the most important things, in my humble opinion, that a parent can do for their child."
The YMCA wants to help every child learn how to swim by removing any barriers that are keeping them from signing up for lessons.
The organization received a $10,000 grant from the USA Swimming Foundation to provide free or reduced-cost swim lessons to children in the community. Several families have already signed up and had their lessons covered.
"The Y is so firmly committed to making a difference in our communities," said Hearne.
Hearne said teaching children of color how to swim is especially important.
"It is both a socioeconomic problem and in a lot of ways, a generational problem," he said.
And the research from USA Swimming can back that up. According to a study from the organization, 64% of African-American children cannot swim, compared to 40% of white children.
Francine Hollis' 4-year-old daughter is currently enrolled in lessons at the YMCA in Lyndhurst. She said in just four months her daughter has become more confident.
"She'll put her whole face in the water and blow bubbles so she can practice for when she comes here," Hollis said. "I would say this has definitely helped her gain confidence."
If you're interested in signing up for swimming lessons at your local YMCA, click here for more information.
The next round of lessons is scheduled to begin in July.