Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Make A Splash To Stop Childhood Drowning

I recently wrote a post about 20 ways in which Florida will kill you. Admittedly, it was a little tongue-in-cheek. I mean, a needlefish falling from the sky, thanks to a hawk with anger management issues, probably hasn't actually annihilated anyone. But I maintain that it could happen! In this post, I talked about how Florida is number one in lightning strikes, pedestrians hit, motorcycle fatalities, red lights run, and shark attacks. Well, I learned another disheartening fact today - According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida's drowning death rate among children ages 1–4 is the highest in the nation. Florida has really GOT to stop striving for number 1 in these categories! But in all fairness, it's not just Florida. Child drownings are still the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 14, and the leading cause of preventable death for children ages 1-4 nationwide.

Today I was invited to a press conference where Olympic swimmers Rowdy Gaines, Cullen Jones, Ryan Lochte, and Caeleb Dressel, ambassadors for Make a Splashspoke about the initiative to raise awareness of the preventable tragedy of childhood drowning. In the 10 years since the program's inception, they've helped 6 million children get swimming lessons! And it's an excellent accomplishment as swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by a whopping 88%!

Rowdy Gaines likened swimming lessons to car safety seats. You wouldn't drive your child around without first strapping them in their car seat because you want to keep them safe. Learning to swim isn't just about having fun, or keeping busy with an activity over summer break; it's about helping to keep your child safe. He stated that there's no such thing as being entirely safe in the water, but swimming lessons make you safER and that's the goal.

At the age of 5, Cullen Jones almost drowned at a water park. It was 30 seconds. Only 30 seconds under water. That's all it takes. He was lucky that his parents and lifeguards were around to pull him out. He joked that after being resuscitated, his first question was, "What ride are we gonna go on next?" His mom got him signed up for swimming lessons after that. And now look - he's one of the fastest swimmers on the planet and he's using his platform to speak out for a cause in which he believes. It doesn't always have such a happy ending. Olympian Bode Miller's 19 month old daughter drown over this past weekend.

Here are some other facts I found interesting. I really had no idea so many people can't swim. I guess I've taken my ability to swim for granted, but now I see that I was fortunate my parents signed me and my sister up for swim lessons every summer.

o       79% of children in households with incomes less than $50,000 have little-to-no swimming ability.
o      64% of African American children in the U.S. have little-to-no swim ability
o 45% of Hispanic children in the U.S. have little-to-no swim ability 
o 40% of Caucasian children in the U.S. have little-to-no swim ability 

Not only does this program strive to bring awareness about the importance of swim lessons, but through the Make a Splash initiative, the USA Swimming Foundation has partnered with learn-to-swim providers in all 50 states, to offer free and reduced swim lessons because learning to be safe around water shouldn't be limited to families with incomes over $50,000. Thankfully my kids know how to swim, but if they didn't, I would be in no position now, as a single mom, to pay for lessons which can be really pricey! ($150 for 8 lessons for preschoolers at the I Drive YMCA, for example.)

To find a provider near you who has partnered with Make a Splash and the USA Swimming Foundation, click HERE and enter your zipcode.

If you're in central Florida and you listen to Z88.3 (our local Christian station), then you know one of the DJs, Ellis has talked about how he never learned how to swim. This year he's decided to take up Rowdy Gaines on his offer of lessons! He'll be at the Oviedo YMCA this Saturday, June 16th if you want to stop by and say hi. Also, the Y is offering adult swim lessons for 50% off if you stop by any Central Florida YMCA to sign up ON Saturday, June 16. This offer is only available on Saturday, June 16.

Please share this because it only takes a few seconds for your life to irreversibly change. Fortunately, through the Make a Splash program, it only takes a few seconds to find affordable swim lessons for your kids also.


Sewprisedmomma said...

Here in Michigan there is a larger town that dits on a peninsula and had a higher than normal percentage of children dying from drowning. The school system mandated swimming be added into the elementary curriculum. Their numbers have lowered since the implementation of the lessons. Every bit helps.

Gloria Gross said...

This sounds like a wonderful program. I don't know at what age they begin swimming lessons, but I think it is an important skill to have. It was 2004 that I lost my little not quite two-year-old grandson to drowning. He had slipped into the backyard unbeknownst to us, while all the adults had moved into the front yard to say goodbye to some family members. My daughter realized that her son was missing and spent some time looking in the street for him when she couldn't see him in the back yard. He wasn't in the water very long, maybe five minutes. He may have survived except he was born a premie and his lungs were delicate and he died that night. The pain of losing a child is exquisite. Believe me, swimming lessons are a very good idea.

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