The state of Texas is No. 1 in many areas, but, unfortunately, this includes No. 1 in pool drowning deaths. Within Texas, Tarrant County was declared by the Texas Department of Health Services to be the leading county for reported drowning incidents of both children and adults in 2012. Overall, drowning is the second leading cause for children deaths and the fifth leading cause for adult deaths. It gets worse—70 percent of African American children, 60 percent of Latino children, and 40 percent of Caucasian children have anywhere from little-to-no swimming ability.
In response to these shocking statistics, the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition (FWDPC) was organized in the summer of 2012. It was formed in the hopes of reducing swim related tragedies.
FWDPC functions as a 501(c)3 non-profit. Pam Cannell, director of FWDPC, said, “We are the only grassroots, volunteer-driven community collaboration in the country equipping non-swimmers with self-rescue skills as well as offering water safety education to parents and caregivers.”
According to the website, FWDPC hopes to do the following this year:
- “Educate and equip 1,000 parent/caregivers with water safety skills.
- Enroll 500 at-risk students in water safety and drowning prevention lessons.
- Give scholarships to 75 underprivileged youth to participate in the sport of swimming.
- Engage 125 community volunteers in order to promote the sport of swimming as a healthy lifestyle.”
Because of the dedication FWDPC has when it comes to ensuring the safety of the residents of Fort Worth in regards to water, there have been many triumphs since its beginnings. These include but are not limited to:
- 760 non-swimmers are now safer in and near the water.
- 90 percent of students are more at ease in the water by the end of class.
- 288 learn-to-swim scholarships have been awarded after successful completion of the drowning prevention courses.
- FWDPC was awarded the National Community Lifesaver Award by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance in 2015.
The Safe Swim Program has non-swimmers in the water developing basic skills to prevent drowning. Meanwhile, parents and caregivers are in a classroom setting learning CPR, devising water emergency action plans for the family, and even hearing testimonies of loss due to drowning.
The Safe Swim Program occurs regularly throughout the summer. Dates, times, and location can be found on the coalition’s website.
There are two ways to become involved with the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition. The first is to donate. Every donation goes to more ways to provide children with water safety lessons and adults with water safety education. The second option for involvement is to become a volunteer. One can be a water safety instructor, a water buddy, or a committee supporter.