DATE: June 9, 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Mills
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Here’s a sobering statistic: Every year an average of eight children lose their lives to drowning in Broward County. What makes that number so tragic is that these deaths are unnecessary and preventable. Since 1999 SWIM Central, based at Broward County Parks and Recreation Division, has worked with cities and nonprofit organizations throughout the County to raise awareness of the problem and to coordinate water-safety instruction for at-risk children. To date more than a million lessons have been provided. Last year alone, more than 29,300 children received water-safety instruction and education through public elementary schools, charter schools, and day-care centers.
Now SWIM Central is part of Water SMART Broward, a new initiative to get all organizations in the County that emphasize water-safety working together toward their common goal of preventing child drowning deaths. That goal entails providing educational resources for parents and guardians.
“SWIM Central has been extremely successful,” says program manager Jay Sanford, who points out that of the more than 425,000 children who have participated in the program since its inception, not one has had a fatal or nonfatal drowning incident. “But as we see on the news with frightening regularity, children continue to drown in Broward County. Water SMART Broward aims to do what SWIM Central has done except on a larger scale – to reach even more people and save more children’s lives.”
Water SMART Broward, which just launched its Website, already has a dozen and a half partners committed to its cause. The list includes private groups like Baby Otter, British Swim School, and Just Swim; agencies such as the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, and the YMCA; the aquatics departments of the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Lauderhill; and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
The Website includes links to SWIM Central and its nonprofit S.W.I.M.S. Foundation, as well as the other partner organizations. There is also information on CPR and swim lessons and lifeguard training, along with some personal stories about families coping with the loss of a child.
“No parent or guardian should have to deal with the emotional devastation that comes with losing a child to drowning,” says Sanford. “At SWIM Central and Water SMART Broward, we are doing our best to ensure that every child in Broward County knows how to survive in the water.”
For further information, call SWIM Central at 954-357-SWIM (7946), or visit WaterSMARTBroward.org.
Recreation. Preservation. Education.
Founded in February 1956 and accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, Broward County Parks and Recreation Division manages almost 6,500 acres, encompassing nearly 50 regional parks and nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas at various stages of development. Facilities include water parks, campgrounds, a target range, a stadium, a skate park, an observatory, mountain bike trails, an educational farm with stables, and a velodrome and other sports facilities. Hours and fees vary by location. For more information, visit Broward.org/Parks.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in programs, services, and activities must contact the Special Populations Section at 954-357-8170 or TTY 954-537-2844 at least five (5) business days prior to the scheduled meeting or event.