ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud Area Family YMCA and District 742 are partnering on a new program to help teach kids how to swim.

The Safety Around Water program will teach kids fundamental water safety skills, such as swimming, floating on their backs, and finding safe places to swim.

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Drowning is the second leading cause of death and injury among children ages 1 to 14-years-old in Minnesota and was the primary motivation behind the program.

The program will begin this spring with second graders from Madison and Talahi schools. Between April 13th and May 12th the students will get three sessions to learn the basics of swimming.

All students will receive a swimsuit, goggles, string backpack, instruction materials and transportation for the onsite sessions. The program is free thanks to Gate City Bank and Pilgrim's Cold Spring who each donated $50,000.

YMCA Aquatics Director Kaitlin Pohland says they are grateful to get the program started.

Swimming is a wonderful sport and a great recreational and exercise option that can be carried into adulthood. We wanted to ensure access to this program for all the second graders and were able to reduce any financial barriers through the wonderful support of Gate City Bank, Pilgrim's and others through our scholarship program.

Beginning next school year, District 742 will incorporate the program into the second-grade curriculum so that all second graders within the district can participate.


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