What does success look like to you? To society? A good paying job? A fancy car? A large house? Financial wealth? Social status? To some it can be as simple as learning how to float, or better yet, how to swim. Besides, when has social status, a fancy car, or even having a large house, ever helped to save an individual from drowning?
The leading cause of death (and disability) for children ages 1-4 years old is accidental drowning. For Great Opportunities, it is a statistic that is highly preventable. Sadly, this past year in Orange County, 22 of the 39 documented drownings were fatal. Although this number is half of what was reported in 2017, even one preventable drowning is one too many. This is why Great Opportunities (GO), a 501c3 non-profit organization, based in San Juan Capistrano, is so committed to their flagship, Learn to Swim program.
For many of GO participant’s parents, learning to swim was never a priority. More likely, they never had the opportunity to learn to swim. These parents, and many in similar situations, compensate for their inability to swim by often placing their children in lifejackets. Many more, rely on various floatation devices to keep their children “safe”, during outings to community pools, beaches and lakes. Some, just avoid water related activities all together. As a result, GO is actively working to change that paradigm. Here, in South Orange County, not being able to swim, or be water safe is a travesty. It not only places one at a risk of drowning, but at a significant recreational disadvantage.
Learning to swim not only expands recreational opportunities, but also serves to develop greater self-confidence. As the child learns to swim, they not only meet but often exceed in challenges that they once thought were insurmountable. In turn, these children who have learned to swim often share and build upon these successes and skill sets with their immediate families and community. As a result, they shift the “non-swimmer” paradigm one child, one family, and one community at a time. More often than not, as these children advance in the program, they learn to teach other children in the program how to swim. And more importantly they learn how to recognize, and act to assist a swimmer in distress, a skill that becomes imbedded in their psyche.
With the month of May marking National Drowning Prevention Awareness Month, GO wants to remind you that most drownings are preventable. GO encourages you to water safe, by being mindful of the following drowning prevention tips:
Great Opportunities is actively looking to partner with more community pools in the San Juan Capistrano area, as a means to expand its Learn to Swim program and further their quest to reduce preventable drownings to Zero.
For more information about GO’s Learn to Swim program, go to the Programs page and click on “Learn to Swim”. If you would like to become a volunteer with GO’s Learn to Swim program, or would like to DONATE, to keep this program afloat, please contact Great Opportunities.