By Tyler Shamlall
In the Tampa Bay area alone, 32 children have lost their lives due to accidental drowning in the past four years. In an effort to eradicate tragedies like these from happening, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and community partners joined together as a Mobile Water Safety team that will bring free swim lessons to Hillsborough County youth.
Brentwood Hills Pool Complex hosted the launch event this past June where partners of the Mobile Water Safety Team came together to tell the community how they will help end Youth Drownings. The Tampa Metropolitan YMCA, St. Josephs Children Hospital, Brandon Sports & Aquatic Center, the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation, and the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Foundation are all partners that have come together with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County to combat youth drownings.
Brentwood Hills was just the first step to successfully launching the Mobile Water Safety Team and their motive to teach Hillsborough County youth how to swim and be safe in the water while also teaching parents safety tips to keep their child safe.
Chuck Burgess, the executive director of the Brandon Sports & Aquatic Center, said, “Forty-five minute classes, five days a week are held that are all free,” Burgess said. “Children will go home with water safety not only around pools, but at beaches and ponds and pretty much any body of water.”
According to Vivian Mcilrath, the public education technician for the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Foundation, their partnership is dedicated to teaching the parents, so they know what to do in case of a poolside emergency before first responders can get to them and how to keep their child safe while having fun.
“The goal for us is to educate as many parents and older children on hands only CPR, not only to educate how, but how to do it properly,” Mcilrath said, “We want [parents and older children] to be the first responders to first responders.”
Having the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County stand up against youth drowning and involving partners from the community will be what they hope to be the beginning of the end for this 100 percent preventable accidental death.
To find more information on Mobile Swim Lesson’s offered by the Mobile Swim Water Safety Team, contact the Director of Water Safety and Mobile Swim Lessons, Ginger Upshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.