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Raising awareness for water safety

Nick Garvale

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Raising awareness for water safety

Senior Ty Nivison coaches his student with the Green float noodle.

Senior Ty Nivison coaches his student with the Green float noodle.

Carlos Rappleye

Senior Ty Nivison coaches his student with the Green float noodle.

Carlos Rappleye

Carlos Rappleye

Senior Ty Nivison coaches his student with the Green float noodle.

Nick Garvale, Reporter

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For the second year, The Tri Cities YMCA has recruited the outdoor ed class for a “Safety around water” program that the students teach to local elementary school kids. The instructors educate 205 kids from four schools around Ottawa County about the dangers of the lake and how to stay calm during a crisis.

“What we do is we ask the kids when they first come in if they’re comfortable in the shallow end or the deep end and it’s about 50/50,” YMCA employee Kris Withal said. “Three or four kids that just moved to this area in the last few weeks were doing a program where some of them had never been in the water before, so life jackets were put on.”

The swimming ability of the participants ranges from strong swimmer to someone who has never seen a pool before. In the beginning of the training, the instructors ask the kids about which end of the water they would like to be in. The class is then split into two groups from the even division of shallow and deep-end swimmers in the school.

“These kids are fun,” Withal said. “They’re very anxious. They have a young child who is a third grade, who just moved here from Africa, and [until recently], he’d never seen water or seen a pool before. So he put on a life jacket, and today he asked ‘can I do it without my life jacket?’ I said. ‘Sure’.”

The program received a grant from the international YMCA and pooled it together with their own money to begin the teaching, which started last year. Making their second year count after two bodies were found this last summer, which washed ashore at Grand Haven beach.

“I learned to swim probably when I was five or six,” Withal said. “I hope we get to continue to do this. Because it is fun. It’s fun, and it’s educational. And it’s our whole thing is safety.”

Kicking and scooping are fundamentals of swimming, which are both taught to all kids who attend the lessons. They start out with life jackets and barbells which help them stay afloat until they become comfortable without them. Kickboards, and having your back facing down are another tool used in the assistance of the flotation as well as security of safety.

“The YMCA really does the bulk of the scheduling to this,” said outdoor ed. teacher Derek Warner. “Last year we kind of piloted it just was one of my classes, and then this year, we expanded it so that both my classes were involved with it.”

One part of instructing the kids, is the role of switching the students and teachers. The seniors in the high school turn around and become the teachers in this group. This also racks up community service hours which many need tom maintain membership.

Despite the fact that we live by a lake many elementary children do not know how to swim,” said outdoor ed student Max Sepeshy. “Water safety is a big concern in Grand Haven and it was cool to be apart of that cause.”

On a level that the third graders are comfortable with, the instructors teach the basics of swimming. How to tread and how to practice safe ways of dealing with the abundance of water we have here in Grand haven.

“From a third grader standpoint, I think they’re just getting some really good instruction on some tips and some things that they can use to keep themselves safe in and around water,” said Warner. “Take this training and I want you to lead I want you to teach.”

Cross-aged learning is something that Warner thinks is unique. He described it as old, peers teaching young kids about lessons the high

already have under their belt. They took a two hour long class on training and preparation for teaching the kids and went to work.

“It’s different. When you’re in the class, you’re giving a presentation or you’re doing a debate or you’re presenting your paper projects, you’re doing it to your peers,” said Warner. “But when you’re actually you have a true leadership role like my kids had in the pool, it’s different. I think there’s an opportunity for growth there.”

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About the Contributors
Nick Garvale, Reporter

Senior Nick Garvale will be continuing his high school journalism career this year as a news reporter. This is his second year being a part of the Blade...

Carlos Rappleye, Photo editor

Senior Carlos Rappleye is in the midst of his second year on The Bucs’ Blade staff. As the photo editor, he hopes to continue the quality of photography...

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Raising awareness for water safety