Andover, El Dorado second graders learn safety skills through YMCA's SPLASH! program

Greg Williams
Butler County Times Gazette
YMCA on N Main St in El Dorado and the city has a proposal for youth sports

Wichita, Kansas — School is back in session and so is the Greater Wichita YMCA’s free SPLASH! program. Offered to area second graders at schools designated as low income (more than 60 percent reduced/free lunches), SPLASH! has a very specific purpose: Keep kids safe while they are in and around water.

“SPLASH! equips children with basic water-safety skills that will save their lives if they find themselves in a dangerous situation,” said Tyrone Baker, senior program director for the Y’s Community Development branch. “It’s crucial to reach children at this age so they can be confident around water now and as they grow older.”  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 1-14. The USA Swimming Foundation estimates that 79 percent of children from families earning less than $50,000 per year tend to have little to no swimming ability.

The Y is meeting those statistics head-on through SPLASH!. Throughout the school year, Y branches in Wichita, Andover, El Dorado, and Newton invite participating second-grade classes to come to their locations once a week for six weeks for SPLASH! sessions. Children are taught such things as what to look for in a safe place to swim, how to float, water rescue techniques, and survival swim skills that include pushing off the bottom of the pool to resurface and the “swim, float, swim” technique. 

Second graders are targeted for SPLASH! because of where they fall in their social and emotional development. It’s an ideal time to reach kids who are more confident and independent because they are no longer new to the school routine, aren’t afraid to try new things, and have a greater ability to absorb what they are being taught.

Up to 2,000 students are served by the SPLASH! the program annually, which is funded through the Y’s Strong Community Campaign. Youth Development is one of three areas of focus for the Y that guides efforts to provide a safe environment for youth to be active and healthy, give back to their community, explore their talents and reach their full potential.

Greg Williams has been the reporter for the Wellington Daily News and Butler County Times-Gazette since May 2021. You can reach him at GWilliams@gannett.com or on Twitter at @GregWilliams28.