Click the video above to see Elle Rawlings thrive in the water thanks to the Tampa YMCA’s Mobile Swim and Education program, generously funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

COVID-19 may have put a pause on some programs and activities, but it did not stop the Tampa YMCA’s Mobile Swim and Education program, generously funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic and safer-at-home quarantines created opportunities for caregivers to be distracted from actively supervising their children in the pool,” says Tampa Y Mobile Swim Director Erin Hotchkiss. “This has given us the extra determination to come out to our local neighborhoods and apartment complexes to teach water safety.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says 56 percent of child drownings are attributed to a lack of adult supervision. Its data also shows 69 percent of drowning incidents, involving children under age 5, occurred in situations in which the kids weren't expected to be in or near the water. Children with intellectual challenges are at an even higher risk.

To help reach youth who may be drawn to water, yet more at risk of getting into trouble, the Tampa Y’s Mobile Swim and Education program provides free private lessons for children with special needs year-round in the Y’s heated pools. These lessons are designed to assist children who would not be able to learn the basic safety skills in a group setting. With hands-on attention, children learn essential lifesaving skills, such as rolling from front to back and turning to grab the wall to safely exit the pool. The results have been remarkable! Watch Elle’s journey with this Children’s Board-sponsored program at the South Tampa Family YMCA.

The Y truly appreciates the generosity of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. Together, we can help save more lives! For more information, contact Mobile Swim Director Erin Hotchkiss at 813.224.9622 ext. 1292 or erin.hotchkiss@tampaymca.org.