For the past three years, Powell Wellness Center water safety instructors have provided a Water Safety program for all third graders in the county. Licensed instructors Peggy Young and Stacey Aucoin will complete their final 2018 class this week.
“We love working with the 3rd graders because research shows that if you haven’t learned to swim by the 3rd grade, chances are you never will. This program helps save lives,” said Peggy. She continued, “The kids are so much fun! They’ve really been actively listening and participating in the lessons. And while there’s nothing that can replace actually getting in the water, the kids are taking in information that will help them stay safe.”
Donovan O’Brien, Curriculum Specialist with the Culpeper County school system, was a big part of launching the program in 2016. He had the following to say about water safety: “The importance of water safety is commonly overlooked due to the limited open water exposure most kids around here face. However, that’s exactly why this is so important. Students need to know the risks of water events like high water on the roads or swollen creeks after a rainstorm. They need to have a basic understanding of steps to take in case they, or someone they know, becomes submerged and is at risk of drowning.”
Powell Wellness Center staff work with the young students to impress the importance of safety rules and water awareness. They demonstrate the proper use of life jackets and share key points including Reach or Throw, Never Go; Look Before You Leap; and Think So You Don’t Sink.
As the warm weather approaches, the staff at Powell Wellness Center encourage parents and other adults to remind children about being safe in and around water. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-5 and the second leading cause for ages 1-14.