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Garner Road 'Y' Hopes Swimming Lessons Prevent Ripple Effect

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RALEIGH — A study in the journal


finds that black males have a higher risk of drowning in swimming pools than whites. The finding does not surprise the staff at the Garner Road YMCA.

"We've always known that our kids -- the young black youths, especially males -- were very susceptible to drowning because of inexperience and having the thought that they could just jump in the water and they would know how to swim," says Larry Jones, director of the Garner Road YMCA.

Dorothy B. Smith is in charge of an enrichment program at the Garner Road YMCA called "Back A Child." Every child in the program is required to learn how to swim.

"I got tired of seeing the African-American children in this community coming from the Y, especially in the low-income areas, not knowing how to swim," she says.

Part of the YMCA's mission is to make lessons available to all children in the neighborhood. The lessons are free.

"They're scared of the water, they don't know what's involved. It's not just swimming, but safety," says Jones.

Young swimmers like Omar Abdulla Lutes, 7, are getting stronger with every stroke in the water.

The Garner Road YMCA feels it is making a ripple in the fight to prevent swimming pool drownings among black boys.


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