First Niagara donates $100,000 to help Pittsburgh kids swim safe

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First Niagara Bank announced that it is contributing $100,000 to the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and challenging the community and other corporate citizens to support “Pool Together for Swim Safety,” a program that will provide local school-age children with urgently-needed swimming instruction at YMCA Urban Summer Camps this summer.

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“Learning to swim is a critical skill for any child. But for minority children, who are 2.6 times more likely to drown, basic swimming skills are especially important,” said Eric Mann, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. “Seventy percent of African-American young children and 58 percent of Hispanic children can’t swim, compared to 40 percent of White children, according to a 2010 study commissioned by USA Swimming.”

The campaign kicked-off at the first Pittsburgh Penguins home playoff game. The fun began before the game, where Pens fans showed their support of swim safety and their team by donating to “dunk” local celebrities and opposing team fans at the First Niagara Swim Tank outside the CONSOL Energy Center. There were other surprises happening during the game. Volunteers collected donations and residents were able to purchase a limited-edition “Pool Together for Swim Safety” aluminum water bottle for $10, with 100 percent of proceeds supporting the effort. For every 12 water bottles sold, one more local child will benefit from the Y’s swim program and be at a lower risk of drowning. Water bottles will also be available at select Pittsburgh-area YMCA locations.

“First Niagara Bank is thrilled to contribute to ‘Pool Together for Swim Safety’ with a public awareness campaign and funding that will enable more than 400 local 5-to 8-year-old children to get important swimming instruction at YMCA Urban Summer Camps this summer. “We hope the community will join us so we can sell-out all of the ‘limited time only’ water bottles, allowing an additional 200 kids to get the fundamental water safety instruction they need this summer,” said Todd Moules, First Niagara Bank Regional President.

(The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh branches participating in the “Pool Together for Swim Safety” program include Centre Avenue, Homewood, Collegiate, Hazelwood, Allegheny and McKeesport. The Allegheny, PNC and Wilmerding branches will serve as pool sites. Swim sessions using the Y-USA’s SPLASH curriculum will be held this summer, and will include five, one-hour sessions per child. Water bottles will be available at select Pittsburgh-area YMCA locations. For more information about the Pool Together for Swim Safety program, visit http://www.yswimsafety.org.)

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