Swimming can be scary for the uninitiated, but children enrolled in Safe Kids Oklahoma’s Wee Water Wahoo at Oklahoma City Community College were mostly smiling and laughing.
Wee Water Wahoo is a primer in water safety. Safe Kids Oklahoma says drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children ages 2 to 14. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause.
The 450 kindergarten students who took part in Wednesday’s class learned how to kick, move their arms in the water and put on a life jacket.
Before getting into the pool, the students received basic water safety instruction that included a water safety video and song. Volunteers guided each swimmer into the middle of the pool and back to the edge.
“Wee Wahoo, is for most children, the first and only exposure they have to the pool and water safety,” said Roxy Butler, Oklahoma City Community College director of recreation and fitness. “We hope to teach some basic water safety that they can take home and share. It’s their first time to be in the water, their first time experiencing having a life jacket on and feeling buoyant, which is different if you haven’t felt that before.”
Swimmers were also taught how to float, how to blow bubbles and to get their faces wet without being afraid. Each group spent about 90 minutes going through the program. While the time is short, it makes an impact.
“We focus on supervision, we want to encourage safety and swimming schools,” said Katie Mueller, of Oklahoma Safe Kids. “Our partners at the YMCA and OCCC have swimming lessons available for mothers and children. Our goal is to encourage them to do more on their own. We want to make sure they know that swimming can be safe — and when it’s safe — it can be a lot of fun.”
For more information on Safe Kids Oklahoma, visit www.safekidsok.org.