FLORENCE, S.C. — The Florence Family YMCA and All 4 Autism partnered with Florence-area Subway restaurants on July 27 for the inaugural Subway Swim Day.

Thirty-five kids and family members participated in the event, which emphasized water safety and basic swim skills.

“Enjoying the water is something that every child should have the opportunity to participate in safely,” said Chuck Case, board chairman for Subway restaurants in the Florence/Myrtle Beach market. “Subway developed this program to support people in our community who may have a family member with autism. This is not only educational and live-saving, it’s creating a day of fun for these kids.”

Up to 90 percent of wandering-related deaths involving children with autism are drownings, according to the National Autism Association. Owners of Subway restaurants and the community partners began hosting the Subway Swim Day events for the first time this year to help prevent these drownings.

“Safety is always our No. 1 priority with autistic children, particularly where water is concerned,” said Jessica Brown, executive director of All 4 Autism. “We are thrilled to be partnering with both the Florence Family YMCA and Subway Restaurants for the opportunity to educate not only the children but their entire family, on water safety practices and enjoyment.”

The National Autism Association said nearly half of all children with autism are prone to wandering, also known as eloping or bolting, from adult supervision and going to an object of fascination, such as water. Wandering prevention and response tips are available on the organization's website at nationalautismassociation.org/wandering-quick-tips/.

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