JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A grant from Florida Blue to the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast will provide 800 local children free swim lessons.
The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast is one of three Florida YMCA’s to receive a $100,000 grant.
“800 children will have the chance over the next two years to learn all about water safety,” said Darnell Smith, the North Florida Market President of Florida Blue.
Darnell added that it’s an especially critical skill on the First Coast, which is filled with lakes, rivers and beaches.
So far this year, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue has been called out to 14 reports of child drownings. While it’s unclear how many of those were deadly, data from the Florida Department of Children and Families shows four children have died from drowning in Duval County alone.
“My mom actually got me my own personal life jacket because I cannot swim,” 10-year-old A’Niya told First Cost News.
A’Niya was taking swim lessons at the Winston Family YMCA Tuesday.
“If something happens, I know what to do and stay calm and know how to get to safety,” she said.
The grant announcement came one day after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced budget money would be allocated to renovate certain city pools so young children can take swim lessons.