BOSTON (CBS) — On a hot summer day, there is no place kids would rather be than a swimming pool.
“It’s fun when you get to dive in the water,” one child said.
One group was in the middle of a swim class at the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex on Thursday in Roxbury. And after what’s already been a tragic year of drownings within the state, the class is ever more important.
“We remember and honor the memory of [Worcester Police] Officer Manny Familia, who made the ultimate sacrifice, trying to save a teenage boy in a Worcester Pond,” said Jeanne Benincasa Thorpe, an EOPSS undersecretary.
There have also been plenty of near drownings, like one on Wednesday in Hyde Park, where a lifeguard had to clear water from the airway of an eight-year-old child who was struggling to breathe.
“We had a very heroic save last night as well at a pool. These individuals do such important work every day,” said Kathleen Theoharides, Secretary of the Executive Office Of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation is joining several other organizations and agencies to announce new safety initiatives, including a $475,000 grant program to help provide more free swim lessons across Massachusetts.
And though this swim lesson may be for the kids, officials say what’s hitting home about this year’s drownings, is that they’ve been happening to people of all ages.
“Even a good swimmer can get tired and not make it. Even someone trying to save someone can tragically get pulled under. What I can say is that everyone needs to be vigilant around water safety,” said Theoharidis. “This can happen to anyone, any time, anywhere.”
New signage will also be going up in various languages at state waterfronts, as well as new life rings. On top of lifeguards already receiving a bump in pay. Parents are thankful for anything that’ll keep their kids safer in the water.
“Just to have this free opportunity is definitely something that a lot of us should take advantage of,” said mother Abigail Thomas.
If your organization is interested in applying for the grant, you can do so on DCR’s website.