Splash lifesaving, not swim lessons

  • Friday, May 23, 2014

To the Editor:

Regarding recent editorials [letters] citing Bob Anderson as the tax dollar watchdog of the community, I must slightly disagree, in particular the YMCA’s Splash program and the Hwy 17 project through Pawleys Island.

To label Splash as mere swim lessons could not be a more gross departure from reality.

The Splash program takes all the county’s second graders, in a safe supervised environment, and teaches them water safety and survival should the child happen to fall into any deep body of water.

The program also teaches ingress and egress of a boat should they happen to fall out. This program teaches the children not to panic, to float on their backs and employ emergency techniques to make it to safety.

Many of the Splash children panic the moment they get within 10 feet of the YMCA pool.

The children come in white knuckled and wreathing in terror as they enter the pool, even though the water depth may only reach their little belly buttons.

This program gives the children self-reliance and the confidence to get to safety, should tragedy strike.

Government spends countless dollars on child education for fire safety, stranger danger, anti-bullying, say no drug campaigns, etc.

It could be argued these are all areas of proper parenting, but far too often neglected. Is water safety any less of child’s education than a tornado drill, hurricane preparedness or even baseball?

How many county dollars are spent on baseball fields, soccer fields, basketball courts and playgrounds?

Yet, how many of the dollars going to these sports facilities actually save lives?

Is teaching a child to not drown any less of a life lesson than “Don’t eat that hot dog for lunch it is bad for you health, how about some nice kale?”

I encourage all naysayers to place themselves in the mind of a seven year old that has fallen into the rolling waters of the Black River without any education on survival, and then attempt to justify not funding the program.

I also invite any and all to personally witness the YMCA Splash program. The confidence and sense of accomplishment this program installs in these little minds is second to none.

It appears counter productive to spend hundreds of thousands on the Hwy 17 corridor in the interest of safety, whilst advocating de-funding a program that actually teaches children how to rescue themselves upon falling into a body of water.

The thinking is flawed at the most basic level. Perhaps one could argue spending a few thousand dollars to drop the Pawleys Island speed limit on Highway 17 to 35 mph. Perhaps going all in on a system, the small businesses and the residents of Pawleys Island don’t want, makes us appear to care more.

After all, if one doesn’t like drive through Pawleys Island, that person has the freedom to just go around. There is no such freedom for a child that has erroneously fallen into a body of water.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am the Chair of the Board of the Georgetown YMCA, my three children have enjoyed and competed in baseball, softball, soccer and the Wahoo’s swim team.

I am a small business owner and a property owner in Pawleys Island, Litchfield, Georgetown County and City.

These small properties generate more property tax and hospitality tax than the YMCA’s Splash program receives.

I am a staunch advocate for less government and wasteful spending. I fully appreciate Mr. Anderson’s watchdog mentality. However, he should realize, had this Splash program been in place 10 years ago in Georgetown County, the tragedy at Sandy Island may have only appeared in this publication as a tenth page side note, instead of front page for weeks.

In the case of the YMCA Splash program, no news is good news and fantastic results.

I simply argue Mr. Anderson is incorrect on these two issues. I endorse no candidate for this seat.

Rodney Long

Georgetown

Proud resident of the City

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