Children’s Hospital Central California Drowning Prevention Program helped kick-off Memorial Day weekend by ensuring that children have a safe and healthy summer, through its annual May Day event at Chuckchansi Park in downtown Fresno.
“We have drownings year round,” said Children’s Water Safety Coordinator Mary Jo Quintero, who organized the event. “This event is critically important because we know that the number one cause of injury-related death for kids under the age of five here in the Central Valley is from drowning. We try and provide the right educational tools, as in the ABCs of water safety – “A” for adult supervision, “B” for barriers to buy us time to get to kids when they get away from us, and “C” for classes that teach us how to respond better, such as CPR or swimming classes for kids.”
Chuckchansi Park was transformed with informational booths and exhibits for children and families such as: a CPR awareness course, a U.S. Coastguard boat, a horse and officers from the Fresno Police Department’s (FPD) Mounted Patrol, police motorcycles from FPD’s Traffic Unit, U.S. Army Core water safety demonstration, firefighters and a fire truck from the Fresno County Fire Department , a mobile fitness van and Kohl’s Water Safety booth.
Activities included a CPR first-aid station showing children what mouth-to-mouth resuscitation looks like; Kohl’s A-Team members teaching children about swim aids and the proper way to wear life jackets; and “Impact Teen Driver” which showed the dangers of distracted driving (i.e. texting and talking on cell phones while operating a vehicle).
“We need to educate parents about water safety,” said Quintero. “They’re good parents, just like you and me, they just don’t understand how to keep their kids and family safe around water. And that’s what we want to be able to be able to provide for them.”
More than 500 first graders from participating Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) elementary schools attended the first part of the event, geared especially to children, from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The second part of the event – open to the public from 5:30-9 p.m. – was geared around water safety, health and injury prevention for families.
“This is the first time though that we have been open to the public,” said Quintero. “We know the community is really behind us in wanting to get injury prevention messages out to families.”
May Day is part of a water safety curriculum (that meets state guidelines) created by Quintero. During the week leading up to May Day, Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) first graders at Del Mar, Greenburg, Muir, Susan B. Anthony and Wishon elementary schools learn about water safety. The event culminates their water safety education.
“I’m really excited about all of the kids here today, they are having a good time,” said Quintero. “This is the end of their water safety curriculum. They’ve been learning about how to be safe around water. We want them to then take that message home to their parents. Kids are pretty good teachers for their parents.”
The Water Safety Council of Fresno County, which Children’s Hospital is a member of, also presented a $2,000 check to the City of Fresno Parks and Recreation to fund swim lessons for children who otherwise could not afford them.
Partners included Kohl’s Department Stores, which provided 20 A-Team members who volunteered in coordinating the event; Safe Kids Central Valley; Water Safety Council of Fresno County, Kiwanis International, Eagle Medical Services, Swim America and Valley Pool Service, Inc.
Kohl's Water Safety Program at Children's Hospital