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Schools offer drowning prevention curriculum

William Floyd Elementary School teacher Rebecca Gaddis gives

William Floyd Elementary School teacher Rebecca Gaddis gives a lesson from the Safer 3 drowing prevention curriculum to Mrs. Pearce's first grade class at William Floyd Elementary School. (May 2012) Credit: Handout

Bobby Hazen is urging Long Island schools to give their youngest students a lesson they’ll put to use this summer.

Hazen, the founder of the Long Island Drowning Prevention Task Force, was instrumental in getting two school districts on board with a drowning prevention curriculum designed for grades kindergarten through third.

Hazen said early education is instrumental in battling the “preventable tragedy” of drowning, because children can help spread the message.

“One thing I find very important is for parents to realize their child has very instinctive learning abilities,” he said. “They can be a big part of educating the family in general.”

The William Floyd School District was the first district to sign on, followed by Middle Country. These districts received the curriculum and accompanying materials free, thanks to a grant from the California-based Swim for Life Foundation, which partnered with the National Drowning Prevention Alliance to distribute the Safer 3 Early Education Drowning Prevention curriculum across the country.

Keith Fasciana, principal of William Floyd Elementary School, was the driving force behind getting the curriculum established in all five of the William Floyd elementary schools for students in grades kindergarten through second. He learned about the opportunity through Hazen, who has a child in his school.

“Every year, you hear about kids drowning in the pool, a bathtub, a bucket of water, whatever it may be, and especially on Long Island,” Fasciana said. “Knowing his daughter was in this school, Bobby asked if we were interested in spreading the message and the answer was yes.”

In William Floyd, teachers in every kindergarten through second-grade classroom were trained on the curriculum and taught it over a four-day period before Memorial Day. On the last day of the unit, William Floyd Elementary had an all-school assembly on water safety.

Hazen said he hopes to get the curriculum into more schools.

“It really has been very well received in a short period of time,” he said. “Principals and the powers that be in the school system realize that it’s a necessity for saving lives.”

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