Nearly 500 Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) Head Start students will have the opportunity to take swimming lessons and learn about water safety through the Swim Safety Initiative Program. Head Start staff will provide classroom instruction and certified swim instructors will be in charge of the swim lessons.
Students will take lessons at one of four sites at the YMCA, City of Temple Terrace, City of Tampa, and Brandon Sports and Aquatics Center.
This program is also a partnership with the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), where the initiative began last year as a pilot program and provided lessons for 1,000 students. The BOCC is providing funding and highlighted the program during a February board meeting.
Evelyn McFadden, Head Start Supervisor, said this program is very important because of the alarming statistics regarding this age group and swim accidents.
“Statistics show that the age group at highest risk of water accidents and deaths are children 4-8,” she said. “Our mission is to introduce our students to water safety in a fun and non-threatening environment and to decrease the number of deaths related to drowning. Our mantra is to create Swimmers for Life,” she said. “I would like to thank Dr. Jacqueline Jenkins, Head Start Grantee Division Director for her foresight and collaborative spirit in this very important initiative.”
The program will focus on four major categories, enter/exit ability, submerging skills, floating and propulsion, and safety recognition. Students will take a pre and post-test on water safety to determine how much they’ve learned after participating in the program.