As summer heats up and more people turn to the water to cool down, two 2021 Dart Grant recipients are focusing on promoting water safety in the Cayman Islands.
Through public education and in-person events, the YMCA of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association — better known as CIASA — aim to make local beaches and pools safer for all.
“Dart believes in the power of sport to unite people, foster community and teach valuable life skills to our youth," said Pilar Bush, Dart executive with responsibility for community development. "In this case, having basic water competency and swimming skills can literally save lives."
Bush said the Dart Grants programme aims to help well-run, local charities make a bigger positive impact in the Cayman Islands community.
Last month, as part of its Ready to Respond programme, the YMCA hosted a Water Safety Day for people of all ages at the Camana Bay Sports Complex that included a free swim skill assessment along with an educational resource package, which includes a development tool to help participants safely develop their swimming skills.
CIASA Technical Director Bailey Weathers said water safety and learn-to-swim programmes are foundational to the organisation’s initiatives.
“Often people hear about our competitive programs, but CIASA works to encourage a safe aquatic lifestyle for everyone,” he said, noting that CIASA currently certifies learn-to-swim programmes to ensure consistent, high standards and will soon be turning its focus to pool safety.
“From unlocked gates to incorrectly marked pool depth, or a lack of safety equipment in the case of an emergency, many pools in the Cayman Islands are simply not safe for daily use in their current state. To assist stratas and homeowners, CIASA will begin to certify pools this fall,” he said.
YMCA Senior Programme Director Jenny Stuesser said developing swim skills significantly reduces the risk of water-related accidents, encourages a healthy lifestyle and builds confidence in and around water.
"At the Y, we define "safety around water" as a life skill," she said. "Teaching children how to swim and be safe in and around water is one of the most important life skills that we can help children in our community to learn."
According to the American Red Cross, drowning is a leading cause of death for children and serious injury or death from drowning can occur within moments, even in small bodies of water like a hot tub or bath.
To help keep children safe around water, keep the following safety tips top of mind:
This article appears in print in the July 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Hannah Reid.