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Statistics show people of color are at higher risk of drowning

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 19:22:27-04

CLEVELAND — This summer there have already been multiple tragic drownings across Northeast Ohio, but amid the drownings lies another grim statistic.

The Ohio Department of Health has reported that 86% of drownings from 2015 to 2019 were preventable.

Shay Truett has enrolled her 8-year-old daughter Kayla in swim lessons.

"It’s very important for her to learn how to swim because I don’t know how to swim myself,” said Truett. “If there was any type of situation where she needed to save herself, I wouldn’t be able to do it so she’d have to do it on her own."

The need for swim lessons is great in the Black community, A USA swimming study found 64% of Black children cannot swim compared to 40% of white children.

The CDC also found Black people are just over 1.5 times likely to drown than white people.

Institutions like Cleveland State University are diving into the statistics head first.

On Monday, The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new report on drownings. The study found in 2018 that nearly 900 people younger than 20 years old drowned. Age, gender and race all played a role in the risk and 75% were male.

Drowning rates were highest among Black and American Indian/Alaska native youth.

"It’s extremely important, swimming is a life skill it’s not something that should be ignored,” said Melissa Evers with Cleveland State University. “Not just for children, but as we get to adulthood basic swimming skills are important.”

CSU’s swimming lessons starts tomorrow for all ages and a significant amount of people enrolled are actually adults.

“Those that I’ve spoken to personally just want to be safe,” said Evers. “They want to do the things that make them a safer person in the world, for some of them it’s just a personal goal."

Evers said a vast amount of the individuals enrolled in the upcoming swim lessons are people of color.

"It actually is largely African-American and some of our other nationalities, we have a large Indian population as well,” said Evers.

Click here to learn more about Cleveland State University's swim lessons.

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