Hamilton Family YMCA's Water Safety Awareness Program teaches school children how to have fun at the pool while being aware of the dangers of both water and sun. Aquatic director Carrie Kuehn is looking for area schools that would like to have the program paired with students' physical education classes.
"It's a good program for children because it is exciting for them and they can absorb the information," she said. "The goal is to have fun and exercise. I think it helps build their self-confidence and self-esteem."
She recently completed a program for Silverdale Baptist Academy's second-grade class, a 45-minute session covering the basics of water safety and more.
Kuehn said she prefers to pair the lesson with the students' physical education class so she can create interactive games that have students learning and moving at the same time.
During the program, Kuehn teaches students everything from the basic rules for pool-side behavior to how they can save a drowning friend without putting themselves in danger.
She also emphasizes boat and personal safety, showing children how to put on a life jacket and how to protect themselves from harmful sun exposure.
One of the most popular games she created is a personal safety lesson in disguise. She had the children form teams and race to dress one of their team members in protective clothing, including sunglasses and shady sombreros.
For students in upper grades, Kuehn said she would be willing to teach more complex water safety policies and share the qualifications necessary to join the YMCA's swim team or to become qualified life guards.
"It's important to give them a well-rounded education about water safety, whether they are at the lake or a pool," Kuehn said. "I'd say 90 percent of them had a pool in their neighborhood or had membership to a gym with a pool."