Swim Lessons Build Skills and Confidence

Taliya, swim lesson participant, and David Byrd, President and CEO, standing next to the pool at the Linwood YMCA.
Taliyah and David Byrd
YMCA of Greater Kansas City
July 28, 2017

Thanks to a partnership between the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Center and Operation Breakthrough, nearly 100 youth in grades K-4 have had the opportunity to participate in swim lessons.

Once a week throughout the summer, they have visited the Linwood Y for formal lessons taught by certified YMCA swim lesson instructors. 

The partnership is one the Y’s efforts to reverse drowning statistics: Drowning remains the second leading cause of accidental, injury-related death for ages 1-14.

"Efforts like this are so important to help make sure that all youth are learning the swim and water safety skills they need to stay safe and reduce their risk of drowning," said David Byrd, president and CEO. "It's clear from seeing the youth in this program that not only are they learning to stay safe, but they are having fun in the process." 

Operation Breakthrough says the youth look forward to the lessons every week. 

“They love learning how to swim,” said Michele Paynter, youth counselor for the Operation Breakthrough students. “Many of them would not have the opportunity to swim if it weren’t for the collaboration between Operation Breakthrough and the Y.”

The lessons have had emotional benefits as well, she said. Students have gained confidence, improved their body image, and overcome shyness to build relationships with classmates and swim instructors.

Taliyah, 7, said that now she knows how to swim across the pool, go under water and hold her breath. She said she wants to teach her older brother, age 9, how to swim next.

Taliyah and her friends are learning important skills: how to float, glide, bob and swim freestyle. They’re also learning water safety, such as how to reach and assist someone who is struggling in the water.

Swim instructor Danielle Randle has seen the youth in the program grow more comfortable with each week of swim lessons. She enjoys seeing the joy on their faces when they arrive each week.

“I like changing people’s lives, so coming here to teach my city how to swim is really important to me,” Danielle said.

Operation Breakthrough receives grant funds that support the swim lessons for their students at the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Center.

Donate online to make a gift to the Y to make sure more kids can have the opportunity to learn to swim.

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