There is a list of common life skills parents instinctively know they must teach their children to keep them safe and healthy. It includes habits such as looking both ways before crossing the street, washing your hands with soap and water and eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables.

Too often, safety in and around water is not added before tragedy strikes a family. Together, let’s help our children gain confidence in and around water and save a child’s life.

Florida’s drowning death rate among children ages one to four years is the highest in the nation. Enough children drown each year in Florida to fill four preschool classrooms. By no means has Collier County been spared this preventable tragedy.

According to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, drowning is the leading cause of death of children ages one to four in Collier County. A 2017 national research study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation with the University of Memphis and University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 64 percent of African American children cannot swim, compared to 45 percent of Hispanic children and 40 percent of Caucasian children. Additionally, 79 percent of children in families with household income less than $50,000 have no/low swimming ability.

The Greater Naples YMCA is committed to reducing water-related injuries and death by offering affordable swim lessons and drowning prevention knowledge, skills and techniques. Our program teaches children the importance of water safety skills and provides more children access to swim lessons.

“For generations, staying safe around water meant keeping kids away from water, but it’s time to start a new family tradition by learning basic water safety skills.” says Melissa Wilson, Aquatics Director, Greater Naples YMCA. “Swim lessons is a great starting point to not only get kids comfortable in the water, but also teach parents and children the importance of developing water safety skills and awareness.”

As part of the program, the Naples Y provides financial assistance scholarships to families who qualify to participate in swim lessons and drowning prevention workshops. The lessons teach young people valuable skills of what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, a situation every child should be prepared and practiced to handle.

In Collier County, the Naples Y teaches over 500 children water safety and swimming techniques each year. Through the swim program, the Y hopes to further bridge cultural and access gaps that can prevent some children from learning important water safety skills and save a life.

When children know how to stay safe in and around water, swimming can be a lifelong source of fun and exercise. Instead of keeping your children away from water, help them gain fundamental water safety skills, confidence in and around water and provide a new, exciting way to keep active and meet new friends.

Interested in helping all kids have access to swim lessons and drowning prevention, donate to the Naples Y at For more information on how to give, please contact Carly Gibb at

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