The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit encourages children and parents in the city and surrounding area to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. On June 20, a new partnership will help many Detroit families do just that by offering free swim lessons through Detroit Swims and Water Safety Days on Belle Isle.
Detroit Swims is a program created by Boll Family YMCA lifeguards in 2010 that focuses on teaching basic swimming skills and water safety education. This free program takes children from a fear of water, to early safety skills, to basic swim strokes, to accomplished swimmers in a matter of weeks. Since 2010, more than 4,400 children have graduated from the program as proficient swimmers.
The expansion of Detroit Swims to Belle Isle is a partnership between the YMCA, GM Foundation, Belle Isle Conservancy, Department of Natural Resources, Born and Raised Detroit Foundation and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Most of Detroit’s children have limited access to swimming pools and instruction, and yet swimming is an important life safety skill,” said Nikole Constas, director of strategic initiatives at the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, and creator of the program. “All children deserve access to water safety resources that not only could save their lives, but enrich them with an outlet for fun, healthy activity. That’s what Detroit Swims is all about.”
Detroit Swims swim lessons are free, and open to Detroit residents ages 8-13 only. The Y provides swim suits, caps and goggles. Classes are on Saturdays at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon beginning on June 20, and Wednesdays beginning on June 24 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon. Parents or guardians must register in person at the Boll Family YMCA at 1401 Broadway in Detroit. Registration will be limited, and is first-come, first-served.
Water Safety Days will be July 14, July 28 and August 9 from 1 – 2:30 p.m. and will include snacks, prizes, demonstrations and hands-on fun activities for families interested in aquatic activities and water safety. Partners for Water Safety Days include Motor City Scuba, Riverside Kayak, U.S. Coast Guard, and more. Water Safety Days are free, no pre-registration is required, and activities are open to all children and families regardless of residency.
“Working with the Detroit YMCA to bring water safety days and swim classes to Belle Isle is another great example of success through partnerships,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “These classes and activities, which are added to an array of outdoor recreational experiences offered on the island, will greatly benefit the citizens of Detroit.”
A Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to Belle Isle Park, including for these programs. A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents ($31 for nonresidents) can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks, local outdoor recreation opportunities, historic and cultural sites at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.
Belle Isle Park:
Additional information about Belle Isle Park – Michigan’s 102nd state park – is available at www.belleislepark.org. Follow us on Twitter @MichiganDNR and @BelleIsle_Park. Belle Isle partners and others interested in the park’s revitalization are encouraged to use the hashtag #AllinforBelleIsle.