Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the YMCA Expand Drowning Prevention Effort in Eight North Carolina Counties

Greensboro, N.C.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) and the YMCA today announced the expansion of Learn to Swim, a water safety program that will be available at eight YMCA locations across the state.

Learn to Swim offers free swim lessons to children from Title I schools during the school year, as well as transportation to the YMCA locations. The YMCA hopes to help more than 10,000 children learn how to avoid drowning, the leading cause of accidental death for children under five in America.

Blue Cross NC pledged more than $90,000 in sponsorship with a press event at the Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA in Greensboro, where Learn to Swim is currently offered. The program will expand to YMCA locations in Brunswick, Gaston, Madison, Cleveland, Rockingham, Pitt and Wilson counties in the coming months.

“The Learn to Swim program will help reduce the number of children who drown,” said Greg Jones, president and CEO of YMCA of Greensboro. “By teaching kids water safety, we can save countless lives and give our children the gift of a lifelong skill and love of the water. This will not only change their lives, but the lives of their families and future children as well. I’m grateful to Blue Cross NC for their generous gift and the YMCA looks forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Blue Cross NC, Guilford County Schools and the Greensboro Aquatics Center for years to come.”

In 2014, the latest available data, 28 children in North Carolina died from drowning, with at least one death in 19 counties.

In addition to water safety lessons and transportation, Learn to Swim will also make use of a new type of lifesaving safety equipment that will help lifeguards or parents more closely monitor swimmers. SEAL SwimSafe is an electronic band worn around the neck that sends an alarm signal if a swimmer stays underwater for too long.  

“The inability to swim is something that can get passed on through generations,” said Blue Cross NC Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation President Kathy Higgins. “Children who don’t know how to swim often become parents who don’t know how to swim, and their children can eventually end up the same way. It’s vitally important that we break that cycle by teaching a new generation of kids how to be safe in the water.”   

For more details on Learn to Swim at Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA, visit http://hayestaylorymca.org/swimming/swim-lessons/.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.89 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. We have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute every year since 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross online at bcbsnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

About the YMCA:

The YMCA of Greensboro was founded in 1889 with a mission to put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. Through its eight branches and YMCA Camp Weaver, the YMCA of Greensboro is strengthening the foundations of our community by offering a warm and friendly environment where people of all ages, races, faiths, beliefs, and physical and financial abilities participate in worthwhile programs and meaningful experiences that make a positive difference in their lives. For more information on the YMCA of Greensboro, please visit www.ymcagreensboro.org.