Mayor Alvin Brown today introduced Waterproof Jacksonville, a countywide campaign to prevent accidental drowning by encouraging people to become familiar with water safety practices and learn to swim.
Waterproof Jacksonville is a partnership with SAFEkids Northeast Florida, the City of Jacksonville and several recognized swim organizations that are joining forces in a commitment to provide free swim lessons to youth who may not otherwise be able to afford them. Waterproof Jacksonville will reach people throughout Duval County.
“It’s very encouraging to see this community come together to help young people,” Mayor Brown said. “This partnership is built on time, effort and expertise – things you can’t put a price on but mean so much to all of us.”
To date, the partners have committed to providing beginning swim lessons to 696 children, plus advance swimming technique instruction to 300 more. Participants must provide proof of financial need based on participation in the free and reduced lunch program. JaxParks, through funding assistance from SAFEkids Northeast Florida, is offering lessons for 250 youths, including 50 for military families who meet the financial criteria. First Coast YMCA is proving the most at 272.
“That’s 696 young people who might never have gotten the chance to learn – and 696 young people who are now going to be safer because good people got together and did the right thing,” Mayor Brown said.
Although the partners have been teaching swimming for years, they agreed as part of Waterproof Jacksonville to provide additional lessons at no cost to help raise awareness of water safety and to reduce accidental drowning, which is the leading cause of death in Florida for children under 5.
The swimming organizations in this partnership are: First Coast YMCA; UNF Aquatic Center; Beaches Aquatic Center; School of Swimming; Safety First; Flying Fish Swim Club; Swim Buddies Swim School; Swimming Safari Swim School; Swim and Learn; JaxParks and Kerry Wick Swimming. The Amberjax Swim Club is providing the 300 lessons in advanced swimming techniques. Safe Kids and Garner Pools provided financial support.
In addition to the partnership, Waterproof Jacksonville will spread the message about the importance of learning to swim through a PSA, social media and video posts and media appearances.
As part of Mayor Brown’s People+Parks Connection, Waterproof Jacksonville ultimately provides more opportunities for people to get out and enjoy Jacksonville’s parks and waterways. Knowing how to swim and be safe around water helps people enjoy Jacksonville’s great amenities even more.