Despite the YMCA of Niagara pools currently being closed and the COVID-19 restrictions enforced in the past, the YMCA Leadership team found a creative way to continue to provide critical swimming lessons to local residents this summer. In early Spring, the YMCA Aquatics team was concerned that children had been without swimming lessons. They brainstormed and decided to launch the Backyard Swim Program to fill a need in the community.
The YMCA Backyard Swim Program delivers high quality and safe swim instruction applying the Learn to Swim curriculum in the comfort of your backyard pool. Every lesson block includes four lessons, 45 minutes each, for up to three swimmers of the same age and ability (these can be family members or close friends).
“Our Backyard Swim Program allowed us to go to families houses and provide a safe and fun way to teach children how to swim. Our instructors encouraged their students to succeed at their own pace, in the comfort of their own backyard pool”
said Samantha Slofstra, Regional Specialist of Child, Youth & Aquatics
Solfstra also had the extra challenge of ensuring that they had enough YMCA certified Lifeguards and Instructors to fill the vacancies. She offered Aquatics Leadership courses at the Port Colborne YMCA pool to prepare for the summer months. Many young people still had to complete their certifications from 2019 before being hired. All COVID-19 restrictions as set by the provincial government at that time were adhered to.
Once restrictions eased, the YMCA of Niagara was inundated with positive feedback from local families who were pleased to have an option that would allow their children to return to swimming lessons. At the end of each session, participants received their updated progress reports. Currently there are 90 families participating in this unique Backyard Swim Program.
“The response to our Backyard Swim Program has been overwhelming. Families welcomed us into their pools and the kids not only improved their swim skills and worked towards their swim levels, but they also had a blast! Our team of instructors loved it and did an amazing job.” said Kim Bentley-MacDonald, Senior General Manager of Health, Fitness and Aquatics.
Homeowners needed to meet requirements set out in our Backyard Pool Homeowner’s agreement (e.g. insurance, pool chemistry, parent or guardian present, etc.). These documents were all shared with families in advance. All COVID-19 restrictions as set by the provincial government were adhered to.
Every day, the YMCA of Niagara works to support the people and neighbourhoods that need it most by addressing community issues, such as senior isolation and well-being, and keeping youth motivated in a positive environment. Bearing in mind the struggles that families are enduring throughout the pandemic the YMCA of Niagara has lowered membership fees for existing members and have waived all Join Fees for new members. Becoming a member not only helps you it helps your community at large.