State to Pay for Swim Lessons, Including at Hockomock Y
In an effort to increase access to swimming lessons and enhance water safety, the Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced it has awarded 14 organizations throughout the state a total of up to $372,000 to provide free beginner swimming lessons to Massachusetts residents of all ages.
The funding is being awarded through DCR’s Safe Water Initiative Massachusetts (SWIM) program. Contracts were awarded to organizations whose instructors hold Red Cross Water Safety Instructor certification, or industry equivalent, and preference was given to applicants that serve environmental justice communities.
“Every Massachusetts resident deserves access to healthy, fun recreational opportunities,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Swimming is a life skill, and our residents shouldn’t have to miss out on opportunities to learn to swim because of financial burdens. This funding we are providing to partner organizations helps ensure more residents have an opportunity to take lessons.”
“As a former lifeguard, I know how important it is to provide a fun and safe environment at our beaches and pools, and one of the best ways is ensuring people of all ages know how to swim,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “DCR provides free swim lessons to hundreds of children every year, and the SWIM program helps us expand these lessons to everyone, particularly in environmental justice communities.”
“The SWIM program enables DCR, working with partners, to provide opportunities for communities to offer free swim lessons to residents of all ages and from all backgrounds,” said DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo. “DCR is committed to ensuring our pools and waterfronts are as safe as possible for people to enjoy as they seek relief from the summer heat, and ensuring people have access to swim lessons is an important way we can keep our swimming areas safe.”
·Hockamock area YMCA in Franklin was among the organizations awarded SWIM funding:
In addition to the SWIM program, DCR has implemented several measures to create a safer environment for visitors to the state’s public beaches and pools. Ahead of the opening of DCR’s inland and coastal beaches last weekend, DCR held an event at Revere Beach, urging the public to take precautions when on or near waterfronts or pool facilities. These precautions include only swimming at or within designated swimming areas, not swimming beyond your skillset, and keeping a close eye on children near the water. During the summer months, the agency conducts regular water quality testing, uses ropes and buoys to mark safe swimming areas, displayed safety signage that can be translated into multiple languages – including Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Traditional Chinese, Arabic, Cape Verdean Creole, Mandarin, and Russian – using a QR code, and installed life rings at all 81 of the agency’s designated swimming areas and other key locations for the public to use in the event of an emergency.
In addition to the SWIM program, DCR provides free swimming lessons to children from four to 12-years-old, which are offered every summer through the agency’s Learn to Swim program at select agency-managed pools. Last summer, DCR provided free swimming lessons to over 700 young people at 19 agency swimming pools over three, two-week sessions. DCR will open sign-ups for its Learn to Swim program in the coming weeks. SWIM significantly expands the Learn to Swim program by reaching more residents in more communities across the Commonwealth, with a central focus on expanding access to swimming lessons for those most in need.
For more information on how to sign up for free swimming lessons under the SWIM program, contact the award recipients.
(Image courtesy of CDC)