First graders in Tupelo are learning the basics of water safety, thanks to a program called Safe Splash at the Tupelo Aquatic Center. Safe Splash is made possible by a partnership between the Tupelo Public School District and the City of Tupelo Department of Parks and Recreation.
“Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death among children under the age of 14,” says Amy Kennedy, director of the Tupelo Aquatic Center. “It is our duty as aquatic professionals to provide services that prevent drownings.”
First-graders spend 45 minutes per day for one week in the water under close adult supervision. Instructors help children who are new to the water learn to be comfortable putting their head under water without panicking. If children have some knowledge of swimming, instructors help them develop more difficult strokes, such as the breaststroke and backstroke.
“Instructors educate each child on the importance of being safe in and around water,” Kennedy says. “It’s important to keep children active and engage them in an activity they can do for a lifetime that will help them have a healthy lifestyle.”