When it comes to fun in and around the water, it’s never too early for swimmers to know what and what not to do.
Thanks to the generous funding by the Pauly D Foundation, the St. Charles Park District is once again able to offer free swim lessons to 3- and 4-year-olds and water safety education to participating CUSD 303 Kindergarten classes.
“Hundreds of children benefited from the free ‘Frog’ swim lessons last year,” said Jennifer Bruggeman, Assistant Superintendent of Recreation. “We will have a limited number of spaces available in 2018, so parents are encouraged to enroll their children as soon as possible.”
Registration for the swim lessons begins on February 28, 2018 for residents and on March 7, 2018 for non-residents.
The free Frog-level lessons are perfect for those little swimmers who want to build their confidence around water and learn the essentials of water safety. Through activities and games designed for that age level, children will learn basic skills such as floating and submerging their face underwater in a fun yet nurturing atmosphere. Mastering such essential skills is a key first step in building confidence and comfort in the water.
And for those young swimmers who are ready for the next level of swim skills, the Swim Academy Prep is the best option. Here, assisted skills such as kicking, floating and full underwater submersion are taught in addition to further water safety training.
The park district swim instructors are certified in both CPR and first-aid. Lessons are available at both Swanson Pool and Otter Cove Aquatic Park.
Knowing how to swim and how to be safe in and around the water is a vital component in the prevention of drowning accidents. According to the Children’s Safety Network, more than 900 deaths due to drowning occur annually in young people under the age of 20. Of these, nearly half involve toddlers age 5 and younger. And drowning can occur in a variety of places, from the home bathtub to a resort spa, at the beach or in a backyard stream.
Increasing people’s awareness of water safety and the importance of introducing swim lessons as early as possible in a child’s life has been the mission of the Pauly D Foundation, an organization created by Paul and Gianna Delle Grazie, whose 4-year-old son, Paulino, died in a drowning accident in 2014. The foundation works with the park district to discuss swim safety through water awareness programs and lessons. In 2017, more than 400 3- and 4-year-olds benefited from the free swim lesson program.
In addition to the free ‘Frog’ level lessons, the park district also promotes the Sharing Wave: Pay It Forward program. This initiative offers a way for interested parties to contribute to covering participation fees for those unable to afford them. A donation amount can be entered when purchasing a pool pass or swim program registration, and can be done in person or online.
A financial assistance program is offered by the St. Charles Park Foundation for anyone interested in participating in any program offered by the park district. Applicants must be a resident of the park district. For more information or to apply online, visit www.stcparkfoundation.org/financial-aid-program.