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Hampton Roads Community News

Dominion Energy, YMCA Partner to Keep Young Swimmers Safe

11-year-old Anaya Mobley returns to school this fall with a new and potentially life-saving skill. When she joined the YMCA of South Hampton Roads’ Camp Red Feather in Norfolk over the summer, she could not swim. She had to paddle around the shallow end in a life jacket, while her friends were having fun playing on the deep end. But thanks to the Y’s expertise and a donation from Dominion Energy, Anaya was able to take free swim lessons and learn the essential skills to keep her safe in and around the water. By summer’s end, she was unstoppable and swimming all over the pool without a life jacket!

Children like Anaya are the reason Dominion Energy’s African-American Employee Resource Group (AARG) decided to partner with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads. Every day in the U.S., up to ten people die from accidental drowning. That statistic is even higher in coastal communities like Hampton Roads. In the last 10 years, 33 people have accidentally drowned at oceanfront beaches in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. The World Health Organization reports that children from lower socioeconomic levels and minority ethnic groups have the highest risk of drowning. They are also the least likely to know how to swim. Swim lessons are proven to significantly reduce the chance of drowning, while also improving physical fitness and coordination.

“The Dominion Energy Foundation provides funding to employee resource groups to allow us to address specific areas of concern in our communities,” said Tonya Byrd with Dominion Energy’s AARG. “With all the bodies of water in our area, we wanted to provide swim and water safety lessons for children who may not have access to them. And when you think about swim lessons in Hampton Roads, you think about the YMCA.”

Dominion Energy’s donation of $4,550 will support about 900 swim lessons for children who are at the greatest risk for accidental drowning.

Each year, the YMCA of South Hampton Roads provides swim lessons and critical water safety skills to nearly 11,000 children. Anthony Walters, Chief Strategy Officer, YMCA South Hampton Roads worked closely with the Dominion team to ensure its grant would help close the gap for those at greatest risk.

“The Y is proud to partner with leaders like Tonya and Dominion Energy who see community needs, and are passionate about solving those needs,” Walters said. “It is because of generous donors and partners like them, that we can teach crucial life skills, like swim lessons to all, regardless of their financial situation.”

That means safer swimmers. But for kids like Anaya Mobley, it just means she can join the fun in the pool with her friends.

For more information on how to stay safe in and around the water through YMCA swim lessons, visit the Y’s website at

For more on Dominion Energy’s Charitable Foundation, visit

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