Mayor Williams Tours Walnut Street YMCA’s Water Wise Program with YMCA of Delaware CEO

150On Thursday, November 20, 2014, Mayor Dennis P. Williams joined Deborah Bagatta-Bowles, President and CEO OF the YMCA of Delaware, to tour the Walnut Street YMCA’s facilities and learn about the YMCA’S Water Wise Program.

 As Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death across the country and drowning rates amongst African American children living in urban settings are three times higher than that for children of any other ethnic group, the YMCA of Delaware created the Water Wise Program to help children become safer around the water. The Walnut Street YMCA targets African American youth living in the City of Wilmington with the goal of teaching the children about water safety and swimming education.

“The Water Wise Program represents the Walnut Street and YMCA of Delaware’s commitment to social responsibility, as it is important that all children have the opportunity to learn to swim and be safe in water, regardless of their family’s financial means,” said Mayor Williams.

Currently, the Water Wise Program has four components: the summer program, which is done in collaboration with the City of Wilmington, the school-day program, in which the YMCA partners with schools to bring students to the branches for lessons, the afterschool program, in which the YMCA partners with other community organizations to bring kids to the facilities, and community classes.

In 2014, more than 70 schools and organizations participated in the Water Wise Program statewide, 2,719 kids received swim lessons and learned the importance of water safety and more than 1,200 children have pre-registered for the 2015 Water Wise Program. Compared to the total number of participants in 2013, this year’s number of participants has increased by 215 children.

In addition to the Walnut Street branch, the Water Wise Program is also offered at the Dover YMCA and Western Family branches. For more information about the Walnut Street YMCA or the Water Wise Program, please call (302) 472-9622. 


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The YMCA is an association of people of all ages, ethnic groups and religious affiliations that strives to cultivate the human potential, self-esteem, and dignity of all people. Our organization exists to develop and practice the Christian principles of love, caring, inclusiveness, justice and peace…and to enrich the emotional, physical and social life of all individuals, families and our community.