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(NECN: Kristen Carosa) - The drowning death of a 10-year-old boy this past weekend is acting as a cruel reminder of the dangers children, particularly immigrant children, face when they don't know how to swim. Now, school officials hope this tragedy will help highlight a program already in place that could save lives.
“It’s heart wrenching, of course.. It's painful to see this beautiful young man, just 10 years old,” says Sergio Paez.
He says the death of a young boy over the weekend is a tragedy.
The 10-year old was swimming here at Bell Pond on Friday. On Saturday, his body was pulled from the water.
“I wish we could have done more for him and his family and for all the kids that go into the water and don't know how to swim,” says Paez.
He also says to help prevent these types of tragedies the Worcester Public Schools started a learn to swim program for immigrant children. It started last year and will continue again this year. The goal is to teach them how to swim and keep them safe.
“Hopefully we won't have this tragedy happen again... We need to keep this community safe... This is a life and death issue,” he says.
The free swim classes for the English Language Learners takes place here at Assumption College.
Fifteen students between the ages of eight and 13 learned to swim in just three weeks.
“It’s so horrifying and unfortunate to see that happen in this city especially when we are trying to prevent it,” says swim instructor Cheryl Cote.
She’s one of two instructors who teaches the students the rules of the water while practicing English language skills.
“We want them to learn these life lessons so that what happened on Friday and Saturday does not happen>>
Paez says the program is provided by federal funding and encourages all who are new to the district to take advantage of the free service.
Recruiting for the program will take place over the next three weeks and it starts in July.
“Before high school, every child needs to know how to swim.. It’s a life and death situation and everyone needs to be safe around the water.”