Sequoia Wellness, in partnership with the Akron Area YMCA, will host the Safety Around Water program for Portage County second-graders enrolled in Rootstown Elementary School.

Safety Around Water is a life-saving, skill-based curriculum taught by certified YMCA instructors with a goal of preventing drowning, while also encouraging a lifelong enjoyment of swimming. As part of an eight-week program, the students will travel to The NEW Center’s Sequoia Wellness on the campus of Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown for instruction.

In Safety Around Water, students will learn what to do if they find themselves in the water unexpectedly, how to swim a short distance, roll over onto their back to rest, and then continue swimming to safety.

"Because drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental deaths for kids ages 5 through 14, the time for Safety Around Water is critical. With programs offered to more students, we can assure that we’re giving them the skills and knowledge to be safe in all bodies of water," said Jill Kolesar, CEO of the Akron Area YMCA.

"Sequoia Wellness and Integrated Wellness Partners (Sequoia Wellness’ parent company) are excited to collaborate with the Akron Area YMCA to bring this program to the youngsters of our Rootstown community. It is our goal to bring health and safety education programs to our membership and the resident families of Portage County," said Andy Malitz, executive director of The NEW Center and Sequoia Wellness.

Andrew Hawkins, superintendent of the Rootstown School District, said, "We are very excited to have all second-grade Rootstown students participate in the Safety Around Water program this year. This program will enable our students to possess the skills they will need to be safe in and around water. The Rootstown Local School District would like to thank the Akron Area YMCA and Sequoia Wellness for providing the Safety Around Water program, at no cost, to our second-grade students."

Students will receive Safety Around Water programming at no cost, thanks to the generosity of individuals and sponsors including Home Savings Bank, Akron Community Foundation, Akron Children’s Hospital, ACME Fresh Market, and the USA Swimming Foundation.

For more information, contact Brian Bidlingmyer, senior vice president of development at the Akron Area YMCA, at brianb@akronymca.org.