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Helpful Resources for Families: Swim Lessons, Babysitting Training, and More

No matter how hard we try to protect our children, we never know for sure when trouble may be brewing. Across Long Island, there are programs and classes for kids and families, from swimming lessons to babysitting training, that will help ensure the safety and well-being of little ones.

Here’s a look at eight to explore:

stay safe in the water

Declan Radtke, 21 months, of Bethpage, taught by swim instructor and manager Carlson Rogers, during a private swim lesson at Saf-T-Swim School March 18 in Levittown.
Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

“We predominantly teach one-on-one lessons, where we allow the child to work one-on-one with their instructor, so we can build a relationship and develop their ability to learn at their own pace,” says Bobby Hazen, district manager and director of water safety programming. for the Saf-T-Swim swimming school.

Weekly half-hour lessons, which can begin as early as two months of age, typically take three to six months to show significant progress.

“The younger they start, the faster they can learn,” Hazen says, adding that kids are never 100% safe in the water, but they are much safer once they know how to swim. “You never take your eyes off a child in and around the water.”

INFORMATION: Lessons start at $47.50 at Saf-T-Swim School, which has 12 locations in Nassau and Suffolk.

Build confidence with animal therapy

Pupils of the Pumpkin mascot from 1st grade of Maria Tartamella, from Therapy...

Students in the Pumpkin mascot of Maria Tartamella’s first-grade class, from Therapy Dogs of Long Island, at Fort Salonga Elementary School on March 18.
Credit: Barry Sloan

Teams of certified therapy dogs and their handlers will come to schools and private homes to help children with behavior problems and work with others to build self-confidence and overcome fears, says Terry Gallogly, founder of Therapy Dogs of Long Island.

On her first visit to a Ft. Salonga kindergarten class for children with disabilities, the teacher asked the children, most of whom have autism, to line up to meet the dog and have it do tricks. At the end of class, Gallogly asked the teacher how she did.

“She said, ‘Oh my God. It has prompted them to use language. These kids don’t talk,’” Gallogly recalled. “We have been going there every week since then. That’s how powerful it is.”

INFORMATION: $30 per visit for Therapy Dogs of Long Island, 631-346-0976;

Learn road safety in Safety Town

Children ride bikes through Safety Town in Holtsville.

Children ride bikes through Safety Town in Holtsville.
Credit: Barry Sloan

Aimed at third graders, Safety Town in Eisenhower Park is a cramped neighborhood of houses, paved roads, traffic lights, and intersections where kids walk, bike, or drive miniature cars to learn about road safety in a fun way.

“They serve about 10,000 students a year,” says Nassau County Police Lt. John Liston, adding that there are two 90-minute sessions a day.

INFORMATION: Open to classes, camps, scouting troops, and other groups; free. Safety Town, Eisenhower Park, Merrick and Stewart Avenues, East Meadow; call 516-573-3190 to apply.

Modeled after Eisenhower Park’s Safety Town, Town of Brookhaven’s Safety Town is also geared toward third graders and groups of children. Free to Brookhaven residents, only open to groups except for special events; free. Brookhaven’s Safety Town is at the Holtsville Eco-Site, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville, call to sign up: 631-363-3770

Installation of car seats in the police department.

Local police and fire departments will install car seats for...

Local police and fire departments will install car seats for your newborn and toddler.
Credit: SCPD

Babies don’t come with manuals, and while car seats can, there’s a good chance new parents aren’t installing them correctly.

Parents can schedule free appointments to set up or check seats at their local election districts or attend one of dozens of events at local fire stations or organizations throughout the year, Suffolk County Police Department Sgt. , Bonnie Raber. “Our goal is for children to leave safer than when they come to us,” says Raber.

The Nassau County Police Department offers monthly demonstrations and installations at various locations throughout Nassau. From 9 am to 1 pm on April 20 they will be at the Uniondale Public Library.

INFORMATION: Toll free, call the Suffolk County Police Department Office of Community Relations, 631-852-6109 or contact your local precinct. In Nassau, call Nassau County Police Department Community Affairs, 516-573-7360.

Fire safety for the family

Every October, in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week (this year, October 9-15), Long Island fire departments participate in open houses to familiarize families with fire safety concepts, says Sean Schwier, deputy chief of the Huntington Fire Department.

Through demonstrations of small fires and how to use a fire extinguisher, local firefighters teach fire safety and prevention. The Huntington Fire Department has a “smokehouse” where kids learn how to get out of a burning building safely.

“It’s not real smoke, of course,” says Schwier, adding, “every fire department does things a little bit differently. Some let you try on their firefighting gear and see their ambulances and EMS teams.”

INFORMATION: Free; Check with local fire departments for dates and times.

Nanny training through the Red Cross

The American Red Cross Child Care Training Program provides participants...

The American Red Cross Child Care Training Program gives participants the tools they need to provide the best care for infants and children.
Credit: American Red Cross/American Red Cross

Babysitting Basics, the Red Cross class for kids ages 11-14, explores the business of babysitting. Covering all aspects of baby care, from diapering to feeding, burping, basic CPR, first aid for bee stings, allergic reactions, asthma and burns, the program also includes home video tours showing the Potential dangers in a home and how to childproof. They go over a variety of different things to look for both around the house and outdoors, says Zack Terzano, associate vice president of Aquatic Solutions and a Red Cross instructor.

INFORMATION: Classes are $99 for a 7-hour program, ages 11-14 at the Freeport Recreation Center, 130 E. Merrick Road, Freeport, or at private residences; Sign up at

learn to ride a bike

Riding a bike is a wonderful and healthy activity for all ages, but it can seem overwhelming to anyone getting on a bike for the first time. Most people have trouble riding a bike because they’re afraid of falling, says Gary Sirota, owner of Wantagh’s Brands Cycle & Fitness. “We take away the fear of falling,” says Sirota. In Brands’ classes, even before they learn to pedal, kids stand on bikes with their feet flat on the ground, then lift their feet as they slide down a slight incline, giving them a sense of balance while on the bike. .

INFORMATION: Free, no purchase necessary, 30-minute personalized instruction at Brands Cycle & Fitness, 1966 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh; call for an appointment, 516-781-6100;

Red Cross CPR and Choking Training

Red Cross certified adult, infant, and child first aid, CPR, and choking instruction is open to adults and older children, says Terzano of Aquatic Solutions, a Red Cross certified CPR training provider. classes and are able to achieve the skills,” says Terzano. The course includes an interactive online component followed by in-person instruction, the program can be tailored to the certification a participant is seeking. Classes also cover how to help unconscious adults, children, and babies who are choking.

INFORMATION: $68 to $99, for instruction from 4 hours, 15 minutes to 5.5 hours. Available at Aquatic Solutions, American Red Cross locations in Mineola and other locations; Red

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