Groups Join Together For Event to Prevent Childhood Drowning

Bringing groups together over a shared cause, the World Waterpark Association promotes its World’s Largest Swimming Lesson event.

Taylor Swift crooned that “two is better than one,” Jack Johnson serenaded “it’s always better when we’re together,” and the World Waterpark Association would have to agree with them both.

Forming a coalition with more than 40 aquatics groups, water safety and training organizations, and parks’ associations, WWA is getting the word out about its June 24th event, the World’s Largest Swim Lesson (WLSL) to more people than ever. WWA’s efforts throughout the event’s seven years have garnered more than half a billion media impressions about the importance of teaching kids to swim.

“It’s a way to create greater power and greater reach by bringing so many different voices together and working toward the same message,” says Aleatha Ezra, the director of park member development at WWA. “All of these organizations are already deeply involved in water safety education and drowning prevention. … It makes sense for us to all come together.”

“Drowning remains the leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for U.S. children ages 1-4, and the second leading cause for children under 14,” a WWA press release says. “Not surprisingly, the number of drowning and near-drowning incidents increases during the summer months and is highest during the month of June.”

Years ago, when WWA was fashioning the first WLSL event, the group wanted to zero in on drowning prevention at the start of the summer swim season. “This is a time where more people are out enjoying an aquatic environment,” Ezra says. WWA also wanted create a big splash across various media channels to promote the message that “swimming lessons save lives.”

“While research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4, many kids do not receive formal swimming or water safety training,” says a WWA press release.

With those statistics in mind, WWA came up with a single-day swimming-lesson event that would both promote public awareness and offer participants life-saving skills. “As the event grew in awareness, we reached out to more and more organizations, who were also committed to water safety and drowning prevention,” Ezra says.

This year on Friday, June 24, WWA estimates that 45,000 participants will take part in the 30-minute swim lessons in more than 700 different aquatic facilities from 23 countries across the globe. Spreading the word to their constituents, members, and followers are more than 40 different organizations, which range from the National Recreation and Park Association to the American Red Cross.

Sue Mackie, executive director of the U.S. Swim School Association, which is also supporting the WLSL, writes in an email, “By joining our efforts and resources these individual associations will have a much stronger outcome for events such as the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.”


Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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