Richmond, VA— Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional deaths among all Americans, and the risk is even higher for African Americans because many never learn to swim. Just weeks ago, 8News Anchor Ava-joye Burnett was one of those adults who couldn't swim; our cameras were rolling as she took action to change that.
"Come on, Ava-joye....kick those legs up and down." With this type of gentle encouragement and instruction, Cami Raimo, director of the Learn to Swim Program at the YMCA of Greater Richmond, helped Ava-joye learn to hold her own in the water.
Before Raimo's lessons, Ava-joye was one of the many African Americans who are at a greater risk of drowning because many of them never learn to swim.
In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that drowning is the sixth leading cause of accidental death among Black adults.
Several school districts in central Virginia have programs that teach students to swim, either in partnership with the YMCA or other organizations.
The YMCA also has programs to teach adults how to swim. To find other "learn to swim" programs, contact your local parks and recreation department.
Ava-joye proved to be a great student: on just the first day of her swimming lessons, she learned to float, swim a short distance and even jumped in the pool. Raimo encouraged her continually during the journey, telling her, "We can do a lot more in three more sessions based on your fabulous attitude and abilities."
Be sure to watch Part 2 of Ava-joye learning to swim next Tuesday on 8News at 5 PM.
For more information on the Learn to Swim Program at the YMCA of Greater Richmond, or to find out which YMCA is nearest to you please visit here.
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