SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for infants in the United States. After tragedy struck Michiana several years ago and two children drowned at an apartment complex pool, community leaders decided they needed to do more to protect children from drowning.
The YMCA partnered with the South Bend Community School Corporation to teach students how to swim through a class held at Washington High School during the school day.
"The kids here are learning water safety and swimming," said Carrie Standlee, a second-grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School. "A lot of these kids may or may not have the opportunity to do this sort of thing, so this is an important program."
One of the instructors believes this skill is a necessity for children.
"Every student should have this," said Aaron Bechtel, the aquatics outreach lead. "It's a life skill that every child should have, whether or not they go to the beach on a regular basis. Parents should know their child should be safe around water."
The program has been around for four years and the young swimmers are always proud when they learn something new in the pool.
"They're always like, 'Miss Standlee, watch me!' and are so proud because they've accomplishing something," Standlee said.
The class is largely paid for through a grant, and the SBCSC and YMCA hope more school districts will follow suit and teach children this important skill that they might not learn on their own.