Project S.A.F.E. (Safety, Aquatics, Fitness, Education)

Hear from the Parents & Schools!

  • "This is the third year my school has participated. The feedback from parents has been enthusiastic and positive."
  • "Both teachers and parents agree that water safety is an extremely important life skill. Many parents cannot afford swim lessons and truly appreciate the opportunity! Thank you for all that you do!!!!!"
  • "Love the instructors! Very kind to the students and make them feel comfortable."
  • "They (kids) were all sad when our 2 weeks ended and wanted to continue to attend the Y daily. They loved the lessons and wrote and talked about the experience daily"
  • "Would you return again? Absolutely! The kids returned more focused and more positive. The team building and camaraderie really transferred in to the classroom."


Accidental Injury: Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death and serious injury to children 14 and under.

  • Most childhood injuries can be easily prevented by taking simple steps to educate children, use safety equipment and provide close supervision
  • The average length of stay for a patient admitted with trauma related injuries is 3.119 days at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas


The YMCA of Austin - in collaboration with Safe Kids Austin and Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas - is working toward the goal of providing all area first graders with education on safety, aquatics, and fitness activity. The program is Project S.A.F.E. (Safety, Aquatics, Fitness, Education).

  • The YMCA of Austin will provide swim instruction, safety education and fitness activities at no charge to parents
  • Classes will take place at YMCA of Austin branches
  • The YMCA of Austin taught 1,659 first-graders to swim in the 2013-2014 school year
  • Since the Project SAFE inception in 2008-2009 school year, the Austin YMCA has provided free instruction to 6,603 children 

Program Format: Each first-grade class will come to the YMCA for eight days - Monday through Thursday for two weeks.

  • They will spend approx. 90 minutes at the YMCA in swim lessons and physical activities
  • At the end of the two week session, each student will be given a certificate of achievement, a backpack, a swim lesson report card, a month-long free pass to the YMCA of Austin, and safety materials provided by Safe Kids Austin

A Typical Day:

  • Buses deliver students to YMCA facilities
  • Students engage in two, 40-minute instruction periods:
    • Half of the students engage in swim lessons
    • Half engage in physical activity lessons
  • Classes switch upon completion of each lesson
  • Buses return students to school

Desired Program Outcomes

  • Provide all program participants with beginner-level swimming instruction, thus building a safer community
  • Provide program participants with safety and injury prevention instruction, for example Water Safety, Child Passenger Safety, and Helmet/Bike Safety
  • Provide participants with instruction in fitness activities that are conducive to a healthy lifestyle
  • Help participants develop self-confidence, self-respect and appreciation for their own worth as individuals
  • Create platform for children to engage parents in conversations about safety issues and healthy lifestyles


Drownings and Near-Drownings: Each year, more than 830 children ages 14 and under die as a result of unintentional drowning. On average, an annual 3,600 injuries occur to children due to a near-drowning incident.

  • Texas lost at least 68 children to fatal drownings in 2013. Source Colin's Hope 
  • About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Source Centers for Disease Control
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Source Centers for Disease Control
  • The fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is almost three times that of white children in the same age range. Source Centers for Disease Control

Physical Activity and Childhood Obesity: 55% of Texas youth did not meet recommended levels of physical activity.

  • 49% did not attend physical education classes in an average school week. Source: Centers for Disease Control
  • 16% fall under the obese category compared to the national average at 13%. Source: Centers for Disease Control

Participating Districts and Schools

Austin ISD

  • Andrews Elementary
  • Blanton Elementary
  • Lucy Read Pre-K 
  • Mathews Elementary
  • Oak Hill Elementary
  • Pease Elementary
  • Sunset Valley Elementary
  • Wooten Elementary


  • Blanco Vista Elementary
  • Camino Real Elementary
  • Hemphill Elementary
  • Ralph Pfluger Elementary
  • Science Hall Elementary
  • Tom Green Elementary
  • Tobias Elementary

Manor ISD

  • Decker Elementary

Pflugerville ISD

  • Copperfield Elementary
  • Northwest Elementary
  • Parmer Lane Elementary

Contact Information

If you are a first grade teacher or school principal and interested in more information, please contact Andrew Wiggins 512-236-9622 ext. 328


      Project SAFE is supported
in part through
the generous contributions from:

  • AT&T
  • BBVA Compass
  • City of Bastrop
  • Colin's Hope
  • Commercial Swim Management
  • Robert Digneo
  • Go! Calendars
  • Craig Hackler
  • Hines Pool & Spa
  • The Hoffman Family
  • The Winkelman Family
  • Stephen Hurd
  • JCPenney Tech Ridge Center
  • Link Foundation
  • Shannon and Terry McDaniel
  • Mtech
  • Jean Olson
  • ONEOK Foundation
  • Thom Parker

To learn more about supporting this life-saving program, contact: Andrew Wiggins, 512-236-9622

Copyright © 2000-Present YMCA of Austin. All rights reserved.
The YMCA of Austin is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. The YMCA of Austin is a registered 501 (c)(3) organization, Tax ID # 74-1193464, and contributions are tax deductible.

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