Children learn water safety, swimming techniques
Risk of drowning is highest in minority populations
By Sandra Jordan | July 26, 2018
St. Louis, MO (STL AMERICAN) – Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Greater St. Louis, in partnership with national water safety organization ZAC Foundation and first responders, taught 120 children ranging from age 5-9 how to swim. This is the second year ZAC teamed with the club to teach children skills to safety enjoy water sports.
“ZAC Camp brings a unique energy to our club kids and truly enhances our summer curriculum,” said Flint Fowler, president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis. He said last year’s campers are still talking about the fun they had with their fellow campers, teachers, local first responders and guests.
“Witnessing the changes in their behavior and their eagerness to share the water safety lessons they learn with their families and friends reinforces how important this program is for the young people in our community,” Fowler said. “We are thrilled for another ZAC Camp year and the opportunity to make this year’s program even better than the last.”
The ZAC Foundation of Fairfield, Connecticut was established in 2008 and is named in honor of Zachary Archer Cohn, a six-year-old who died after being trapped in a pool drain in a backyard swimming pool.
“Each year we are overjoyed to see Zachary’s legacy live on in each and every Boys & Girls Club member who attends ZAC Camp,” said Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation. “It is incredibly special to be back in St. Louis at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis to equip a new batch of campers and their families with the tools to live safer lives around water.”
The ZAC Camp program combines in-pool swimming lessons, safety classes with first responders, and classroom curriculum based on tenets of water safety taught in a children’s book co-authored by Zachary’s parents, Brian Cohn and Karen Cohn, “The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim.” Each participant received a copy of the book. By week’s end, ZAC campers had learned critical skills to lead them on the path to safe swimming, including fundamental stroke training, emergency preparedness and response, and basic lifesaving techniques. The four days of water safety training culminated in a concluding award ceremony, attended by some city leaders.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites drowning as the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause in children ages 5-14. Risk of drowning is highest in minority populations, with the fatal drowning rate almost three times that of Caucasian children. Many of these deaths are preventable with proper water safety measures. Through community engagement and education, ZAC Camps aim to reduce these statistics.
Missouri has been the site of a number of drownings by young people this season. Just last week, one mass water disaster killed 17 passengers and injured several others in an amphibious tourist boat on Table Rock Lake during high winds and a storm.