Warren County YMCA receives children’s water safety grant

The grant will allow the Y to reduce drowning rates, particularly in underserved communities, and keep kids safe in and around the water.
A new grant will allow the YMCA in Lebanon to offer water safety lessons for kids in...
A new grant will allow the YMCA in Lebanon to offer water safety lessons for kids in underserved communities.(Countryside YMCA)
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:09 PM EDT
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WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Countryside YMCA in Lebanon hopes to increase the availability of water safety and swim lessons in underserved communities thanks to a new grant.

The $6,700 grant will translate into free swim lessons to 100 eligible children this year as the Y seeks to reduce drowning rates and keep kids safe in and around the water.

The Y will also use the grant to provide scholarships for swim instruction and water safety to children from underserved communities.

“We try to bring that mission to life by identifying the needs of the community and then figuring out what are the ways we can meet those needs,” CEO Chris Johnson said. “This grant allows us to teach the lifesaving skill of swimming to more children and we are excited for the opportunity.”

The grant comes as the CDC reports fatal drowning to be the second leading cause of death in children 14 years and younger. Meanwhile, according to a USA Swimming study, ethnically diverse communities experience a drowning rate more than twice as high as the national average.

“Educating children how to be safe around water is just as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street,” Director of Swim Lessons and Water Fitness Karla Toye said. “The Y teaches children of all ages and backgrounds that water should be fun, not feared, and this practice not only saves lives it builds confidence.”

The issue is compounded due to the pandemic. In typical years, the Y teaches 4,800 kids in their swim programs. In 2020, that number decreased to 1,968.

“Due to all the COVID restrictions last year, we know there are children in our community who either weren’t able to start or couldn’t continue swim lessons and this puts them at more risk in and around water. We want to make every effort we can to reach those kids this year,” Executive Director Holly Colón said.

To learn if you qualify for financial assistance with swim lessons, please contact Karla Toye at 513.932.1424 (ex.152) or email

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