The YMCA of South Florida and the Florida Panthers had planned a press conference for Water Safety Awareness Month for May 23 at the Greater Hollywood YMCA Family Center, Hollywood, Fla.
Sadly, the night before, two young children ages 5 and 6 drowned. With such a tragedy taking place, the Y quickly refocused the purpose of the press conference to be a Call to Action! Parents, families, and the community were asked to be vigilant over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in watching the water whenever they are around it, no matter what type of water – pool, beach, lake or canal.
Memorial Day weekend kicks-off summer water activities in South Florida and Broward and Miami-Dade counties lead the nation in drowning deaths among small children. Last year, Florida had 88 people die by drowning and 75 were children under the age of 4, and more than 100 children have died in South Florida due to drowning since 2010.
In support of the YMCA’s water safety and drowning prevention efforts, the Florida Panthers Foundation awarded the YMCA of South Florida a Community Champions Grant for $25,000 on Saturday, Feb. 23, during the 2018-19 season. This Community Champions Grant supported the YMCA of South Florida’s Swim for Jenny drowning prevention program. The 2019 Swim for Jenny Week provided more than 2,500 free swimming and water safety lessons, and drowning prevention information to children and adults at YMCA locations during Spring Break.
The Press Conference also included a Free Swimsuit Giveaway to kids and families in need. The YMCA understands that there are many reasons kids do not learn to swim. Not all families are able to provide proper attire, so earlier this year, the YMCA held a swimsuit drive to help families in need. More than 150 donated swimsuits were distributed.