Some of you have been reading my blogs over the last year or so. Maybe you’ve seen my activity on Twitter or connected with me on Facebook. First of all, I’d like to say Thank You! and I genuinely look forward to connecting with more people who share my passion. I’d like to learn more about you – people’s stories fascinate me. By now I’m guessing that more than a few of you are wondering “Why is she doing this?”
For probably the first and only time in my life I fall into a gray area. In a field that is dominated by the academic/public health/medical professionals at one end of the spectrum and parents who have suffered the loss of a child at the other end, I fall into an area that my friend Mary Ann and I have dubbed ‘Switzerland’. I have a strong academic/business background but it has nothing to do with aquatics, water, or public health. I love to swim, but thanks to a shoulder injury I swim sidestroke – most often associated with elderly ladies wearing petal swim caps. I have not, Thank God, lost a child. I have no obvious reason for dedicating myself to water safety.
So why have I dedicated 3+ years of my life, not to mention my own money, to saving kids from drowning across the globe? Serendipity, karma, the right place at the right time, a perfect storm – they all could qualify as an explanation, but the only true answer I can come up with – it’s what I’m meant to do. I have had a passion for helping children since I was a child – give me anyone who is weak, misused, endangered, vulnerable, subject to the whims of adults – and I stand ready to take on their cause, fiercely. Take that single-minded determination to make children’s lives better and add water, literally. I love the water – it soothes me, it revives me, it relaxes me and regenerates me. When I started helping a friend look at drowning prevention it all just clicked and I knew this is what I was meant to do. After over 40 years my diverse and non-linear path through academic, professional, and personal experiences suddenly made sense and provided me with exactly the tools I needed to address the issue.
My goal is to cut the global rate of drowning significantly and permanently over the next 30 years. I believe that if we start teaching very young children continuously, repetitively, positively, and age-appropriately how to have a positive and realistic relationship with water, that water safety will become an internalized life skill. Once children know how to relate to water positively and safely, they will make the right decisions when confronted with water throughout their lives and will teach their own children. It is only if we accomplish this that the global rate of drowning will drop permanently. Drowning should not be the epidemic it is. We have to change how all people relate to the water and we have to start with children as young as infants and toddlers if we are going to make a permanent change. This is what I believe and this is what I am dedicated to creating.