Today, Child Safety Source is showcasing our interview with entrepreneur and safety expert Rebecca Wear Robinson. Life Saver Pool Fence’s president, Eric Lupton, loves to chat with other professionals that are deeply concerned with keeping children safe from harm. As with our earlier guests in this series, today’s guest certainly shares these concerns. Education and spreading awareness of drowning danger are the topics of the day.
As you’ll learn in this video, Rebecca is certainly up to the challenge:
Learning a Bit More about Rebecca Wear Robinson
When Rebecca discovered the global drowning rates in 2007, she took action. Her academic background and entrepreneurial experience, along with her lifelong history of advocacy for children, led her to start Make the Minute Matter.
She developed the concept and strategy for the organization, as well as the structure that supports it. As an activist and expert in the field, Rebecca works with drowning prevention organizations around the world to identify and encourage innovation, connect them with valuable resources, and help them to integrate principles of social marketing into their water safety advocacy.
According to the Make the Minute Matter website, Rebecca is responsible for recruiting over 25 major organizations globally to adopt consistent messaging in their water safety communications. This includes major entities, including WaterSafety USA and the U.S. National Park Service. She is also the author of “Start an Epidemic: Ignite Changes With Social Marketing.”
Thanks for joining us for this interview, Rebecca. Your mission is so critically important and we wish you the best of luck. We wholeheartedly support your quest to educate organizations and to help keep children safe from drowning hazards.
For more interviews like this one, please follow our official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Additionally, please take a moment to check out our official YouTube channel. The entire collection of Child Safety Source video interviews are archived there.
Subscribe to the Child Safety Source Podcast!
For safety fans on the go, we also offer audio-only versions of these interviews. As you can see, keeping up with the show is easy. Here are three ways to listen to Child Safety Source while you’re on the move!
Below is a direct transcript of the Child Safety Source interview with Rebecca Wear Robinson from August 28th, 2018:
Eric Lupton: Live on the internet.
Rebecca Ware Robinson: I am thrilled to be here with you
Eric: It’s just like before but different, you know. How you doing?
Rebecca: I’m doing well thanks. I’m thrilled to be here and talking with you about drowning prevention in the world and without
Eric: And using your voice which is what we were talking about is right behind you
Rebecca: Exactly, use your voice, we were saying um and again I had a very talented young woman who lived with me doing some school and she took one of my favorite phrases and put it up and it inspires me because if we in drowning prevention are not using our voices to speak out to not just our field but the rest of the public, it doesn’t matter how good our work is. if it’s not being heard, it’s not being used and then people are still drowning. So, yes, I’ve committed to using my voice.
Eric: So, you started out I mean, I may be wrong but you started out doing research right?
Rebecca: I did
Eric: At the beginning
Rebecca: I did and it’s a different sort of research. I actually come from a business and marketing and social psychology standpoint, so my background is all consulting and then when I learned about drowning, I thought… somebody came to me with a product idea actually, and I thought well I’ll help you out, I’ll write a business plan for you. And then I kept researching and I thought this is ridiculous. This is a global epidemic, and 11 years ago, hardly anybody was talking about it.
There are the people in this field who’ve been doing this for decades, who are unbelievably dedicated to it, and have done great work. But, it still didn’t have the recognition you know, it’s people like Steve Urban and Justin Scarr who took it to Bloomberg you know, and it finally got heard by them and then Bloomberg, thank goodness, agreed to go to the world helped to sponsor a report by the World Health Organization.
So, you know, drowning was only declared an epidemic in 2014, because of the work of people like that. So, I entered it from a research standpoint of, not necessarily like what swimming lessons work or, you know, what pools are; that what pool fences are the best ones, that is not my area of expertise, but where I do come out from is a how do we… why are… why aren’t people aware of drowning, it’s not being marketed correctly.
People don’t know that they want to know about drowning. We tend to push. We push saying you know you really need to know about this it’s dangerous you’re gonna die and your child’s gonna die. And yet, people aren’t pulling the information to them and if you market, something you pull the information.
I want to know about water safety. I want to know how can I keep my child safe, and it’s not because people don’t care about their children, we know that. So, figuring out doing the research into what were the issues where drownings occur, where drowning is occurring, but most of all why do we have a global epidemic and people… it’s not like on every news channel all the time. And so, that started off my in-depth research and because my interest has always been advocacy for children.
I’ve always had a global interest. I’ve looked at it from how does it all tie together from country to country. So, I mean, I always come out the best thing about my work hands down is one, if I do my job right, kids don’t die and two, I work with the coolest people on the planet, literally, all over the planet. So, it’s hard hearing the stories, but I feel like the dedication of the people in the field that I’m working with, that I see every single day keeps me going because it gives me hope. I’m like all right; we’ve got the information, we know how to prevent drowning, we just have to break out of our silo and get the information out there.
Eric: And, I think that’s really important you know, and I think that the, you know, the global approach you’re taking is important you know. Obviously, we have a lot of drownings in the U.S. is the number of times we have in the US are dwarfed compared to the number of drownings, you know a lot of second and third world countries, it’s less than 1%.
Rebecca: Yeah, you know, I think that’s a statistic which it’s really hard for people to wrap their head about. I mean, people in drowning prevention knows in the U.S. drowning kills more one to four year olds than anything else, except birth defects, you know, and even in the A.S. people who work in drown they are standard by that. And then, if you put in… so, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths globally, and the United States for the epidemic we have here, it is less than 1% of the current global death toll, and 59% of World Health Organization members don’t count drowning as a cause of death. And so, they estimate that the actual toll which right now is officially 380,000 a year, is conservatively between five and ten times higher than that.
Rebecca: Yeah, so you’re probably conservatively talking over three million people that are dying of drowning, and that does not include people who drown in floods and tsunamis and when a ferry overturns the dock boat in Minneapolis; that’s not going to be drowning deaths, that’s going to be a transportation accident. So yeah, it is an enormous global problem. I mean, I think one of the great things about being here in the United States is the organizations within the United States that are… have come up with ways of dealing with drowning, of preventing drowning. Those can be rolled out in other places, Australia, you know, the UK top of the heap in terms of what they’re doing, Brazil is doing an awesome job, Portugal… I could go on… Ireland, you know, Roger Sweeney in Ireland is just doing an amazing job with his and Ross MacLeod at RNLI in the UK fantastic, fantastic material they’re putting out on radio, on TV, on YouTube, on, you know, 30-second clips; there’s just a lot of really exciting stuff happening.
Eric: So, what are some of the things that… I know what Australia is doing, but what’s happening in say UK?
Rebecca: The UK you’ve got two major or two major large organizations. You have World Life Saving Society, UK which there’s a number of world life-saving societies
Eric: I know the Australian, and Canada one
Rebecca: Yeah, that’s right, also, and they’ve also got Commonwealth which covers all the Commonwealth countries. And then you have RNLI, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, and they’re all doing similar but different things. So, RNLI started with, if you’re a sailor in the UK, you really love the RNLI because if you’re in trouble, it’s their volunteers who are out rescuing you. So, they do a lot of actually the open water rescue stuff, but they do a lot of Education. Like I said, I’m really impressed with the campaign’s that Ross McCloud has put out, the risk hashtag, respect the water, he’s done a lot; a great one, really powerful video. Um, talking about what to happen with basically cold water, you know, the float on your back, the starfish.
But, there’s also a lot of the smaller organizations within the UK as well, and one of the ones that I really admire the work she’s doing is W-Ann in Wales with River and Sea Sense, and her son drowned and fell off into a waterfall and she has just dedicated the last 10 years to raising awareness. She’s gone around and spoken to well over a hundred thousand schoolchildren in Wales, she has been tireless, she was a national lottery winner for the amount of time and effort she has put into this to put… to give a face to the issue, and she’s now going to Ireland to speak to one of the main academic conferences that happens in Ireland every year with drowning prevention.
So, the UK has, you know, they’re surrounded by water, they have less drowning rates than the US. But, we’re much bigger than they are. But, they’ve got two major organizations that are really dedicated to doing this, and again World lifesaving was very act… the World Lifesaving Organizations have been very active and tried to get a higher level of involvement like from the World Health Organization. RNLI huge credit to them, because they just hired an advocacy person whose name just went right out of my head. I can see her but got the United Nations, they have a photo exhibition at the United Nations just in the last month pushing drowning. They have, I believe, five ambassadors on board for signing a United Nations resolution about drowning. So, if anybody wants to do anything, call your ambassador and ask them to please support. Have your country support that United Nations resolution to acknowledge drowning as a major problem
Eric: That’s really cool. And you know, I always assumed that there, you know, other countries, we’re doing things you know, similar to what we were doing. But, it’s nice to hear that they might be doing a better job than we are, actually motivates me now. I could be upset by that, but actually, it’s kind of nice to know that you know, someone else is doing a better job than we are, you know
Rebecca: Well it’s great, because then we can learn from them and when we can use their stuff. I’m great; I admitted I’m regularly poaching whatever RNLI and Irish Water Safety put out, any video they’re putting out, chances are you’re gonna see on my Facebook feed. Because, it is such high quality and just because the accents might be Irish or British, it doesn’t matter. I live near Chicago, Lake Michigan is one of the Great Lakes, the five Great Lakes, and four of those Great Lakes have very serious rip currents. And, Lake Michigan where I am close to, has the worst rip currents and so when I see information coming out of Australia like Dr. Rob brand or Dr. Rip that went on to the National Geographic site, I’m putting it out there because just because…with currents, the ocean does not know where it is, the ocean does not know that it’s supposed to belong to Australian accents or British accents or Irish ccents or Brazilian accents or American accents. The water goes where it wants. So, if I know how to get out of rip current with an Australian accent, I know how to get out of Brooke current and Lake Michigan.
Eric: No, it makes a lot of sense. So, you must be familiar with Bob Pratt with the Great Lakes, right.
Rebecca: Of course
Eric: He’s awesome.
Rebecca: Yeah, he is awesome. And he’s becoming very active, unfortunately. Yeah, it’s the hard thing about our field is when you get sudden media attention, unfortunate because somebody died. Yeah, and we had a 13 …well we’ve had a number of in Lake Michigan, the start we always do but a 13 year old died in Rogers Park on the north side of the city in a rip current, right after the lifeguards have gone home. The red flags are up, and I know Bob Pratt’s been speaking about that, Dave Benjamin has been speaking about that. They’re trying to get a Chicago water safety task force up which I’m pushing to be on it. Let’s hope it goes because we need it, you know. Drowning is a huge problem in Chicago and I don’t have the numbers. I’m having trouble getting them, but I suspect non-fatal drownings in Chicago with the rip currents are even higher, and then your start, you know, you start getting the attention of policymakers because you start talking non-fatal drowning, and you’re talking real money.
Eric: Oh yeah, like time care.
Eric: Public disability
Rebecca: I know, and sadly you know, it’d be great to say kids are dying, you should help and get in line with every other cause. But, the minute you start saying lifetime care, permanent brain damage, this is how much it’s costing the insurance companies, the hospitals, the states, you know, then you’re gonna start getting some attention.
Eric: If you did get involved with the Chicago Drowning Prevention task force that would be an interesting flip to what you usually do. Because, you usually try to keep it pretty international and, you know, I know you try to keep your focus global and not, you know, on the US. So, it’d be interesting for you to do the global, and then it’s the local rate in Chicago, you know.
Rebecca: It would be… it will be interesting and I’m the first to admit that if they aren’t actually accomplishing anything, I’m either gonna blow up or I’m out of there. Because I’m not interested in just showing up to have my name on something just, so we can all meet and feel good about ourselves, we’re talking about water safety, we feel good about ourselves. I don’t have time for that, if… Chicago is an awesome City, Chicago is my hometown. I’ve lived in three other countries, you know, but here I am back in Chicago and I love Lake Michigan. My mom grew up in Rogers Park, you know, literally a block away from that girl …where their girl drowned, and I think Chicago has a history of being aggressive and trying new things. It’s interesting you see that in our architecture, you see that in our theater, you know, little-known thought or a little known fact. But, a lot of shows that end up big on Broadway in New York started in Chicago to see if they were gonna go. Chicago has a history of getting the avant-garde, of trying things out, of taking a risk, you know. We take a risk architecturally with Frank Lloyd Wright, helmet yawn and you know, our skyline. We take a risk with theater, we take a risk with our music festivals and the diversity of restaurants. We have, and so I think that if Chicago, the perk district, the fire department, the Chicago Public Schools the after-school programs, the neighborhood programs, the faith-based organizations; if we can pull them all together, I think that the personality type that Chicago has could create a culture of water safety that basically would create a template for other cities to pick up. So, I’m very optimistic that if Chicago does commit to this, our personality, our heritage, I think have a chance of making a real difference. Therefore, I would like to go local.
Eric: Yeah, because you’re right that, you know, local role model, you know, hopefully would ripple into other places especially in areas that aren’t necessarily considering United States, right. You know, it’s one thing when Florida and California in Arizona, you know, they have a water safety initiative because people expect it right like oh of course Florida is doing it. But, if Chicago does it then that’s a whole different thing you know.
Rebecca: Yeah, you know, and again you know, point out there’s a lot… people know, they’re like oh yes, well you’ve got the drowning since you said in Florida California and Arizona and stuff Montana, has a really high drowning rate, who knew that.
Eric: I didn’t.
Rebecca: I know, most people don’t know… I know, but Montana has a really high drowning rate because Montana has stunning outdoor… stunning outdoors, stunning nature, and so the lifestyle there is around the hunting and the fishing and the whitewater rafting and the floating and there’s it …but it’s a lot of open water and it can be a lot of very cold open water as well. So yeah, Montana has very high drowning rates and nobody talks about it, so yes, if Chicago can do it, and yes, we have Lake Michigan right there, but people don’t think about it because it’s not cool. People think if it’s drowning, it must be cool.
Eric: Or an ocean
Rebecca: …or an ocean, yeah
Eric: And you know, I think you’re right, if we can get something like that, you know, that could really be a neat model for other states that are necessarily branded as water areas to make a change.
Rebecca: You know I agree, and again I would very much. Chicago has been a leader in so many areas. Sometimes, bad areas, but in a lot of good areas. I would like to see Chicago take the lead, um I think that… like I said, we have the personality, we have the historical heritage to create something innovative that really works, that’s cost-effective
Eric: You sent me a paper you wrote a few years ago, and it was on a multi-generational change to drowning prevention. So, it’s actually, you know, imprinting in kids from a very early age and even from prior generations that, you know, the water city is important you know, the rules for, you know, being around water you know, always swimming with a buddy. And, you know, I think got a few general rules that you wanted to get across and I thought that was an interesting idea that you don’t hear a lot about yeah.
Rebecca: Yeah, and I think it’s at the crux of all the work I do. And the example I always give to people is that, you know, if you’re going to have water safety stick in somebody’s head for a young… because young child are very high risk. Well, how do you teach a child to walk across the street safely? You don’t tell them once, you tell them over and over again, you show them the exaggerated ‘look both ways’, you know, before you cross the street until it becomes imprinted. And, that’s really what we have to do with water safety starting from a very… basically starting from the first bath.
You know, children are in water when they’re in utero, and when they come out and they have a first bath, you know, if you have a child that you’ve seen a baby being born, you know, being bathed there’s like that startle and then there’s like almost too relaxed, and when my children are young and it was a rough day, throw them in the bath because …or go for a swim, because that water just takes the edge off. It’s a very positive relationship but that positive relationship then can translate to a toddler wandering off to enjoy that on their own and finding the unfenced pool or a child with special needs or especially autism feeling that comfort that hug of water. So, that’s why autistic children have significantly higher drowning rates, and so if we start from literally the minute a child is born with talking with them and showing them proper water safety, how to interrelate with water positively and respectfully and safely, then it becomes imprinted and so when you become a parent, there’s no manual that says, you know, you really need to teach your child to cross the street safely; it’s just something that is so ingrained with you that you automatically do it.
And so, if you are doing that with water safety as well, then over time if my bet is correct, my model within one generation, we would see a significant and permanent drop in drowning rates. Because, it would be embedded in the culture and I think what’s fascinating is that in many different countries including the United States, because in the United States, American Indians, American Eskimos, the Native Americans have the highest drowning rates by a longshot; the Maori in New Zealand, the aboriginals in Australia, you know, this holds true in in Canada, also the native, the First Nations people have extremely high drowning rates. But, where they have been successful in incorporating water safety is when they go into the culture and they talk about how the cultures have revered water, the relationship that the tribes have had with water for generations; when they start bringing that and incorporating that back, then you start seeing an openness to learning about water safety, to learning about drowning prevention because people are reclaiming your culture and then it’s becoming indoctrinated, it’s becoming internalized. So, just as we learned across the street safely, you learn to relate to the water safely. And so, I’m glad you brought it up, that idea that from birth onwards we need to be starting now, teaching parents how to… new parents how to relate to their children, their newborn, and as they grow and then you get them into swimming lessons, and then you teach them how to act as a teenager, you know, in the safe boating and all that other sort of stuff, by doing that we’re creating a generation who will then automatically pass that information on.
Eric: So, if you had to pick a, you know, look both ways before crossing the street message for water safety got ingrained for kids, what would it be?
Rebecca: Well, that’s a tough one and I’m supposed to know that off the top of my head, you know, and that’s one of the challenges actually, because look both ways you cross the street, you can some **.
Eric: I’m ready you know, stop, drop and roll, you know. That’s a …
Rebecca: Yeah, the one I came up with was… and this is not something you would teach a child, but it’s something that we need to be teaching the adults so that they are passing on, because there isn’t going to be that’s the… that’s the difficulty, that’s the complexity of our issues. There’s not one… just one message, there are different messages related to don’t leave a baby in the bath, you know, always swim near a lifeguard, you know, wear a lifejacket if you’re a weak swimmer or if you’re on a boat. There’s so many different ways that we have to, you know, turn tubs on over if you’re not using them. So, many different ways. So, back at the beginning when it came up with, let’s teach, watch and protect.
So, this would be for parents, so they start teaching and then don’t let me forget consistent messages because that’s really important, but the teachers teach your child about water safety basically from birth until they are 18. If you’re teaching them a little bit every year, kind of building on it. I believe that would make them better prepared watch child as we all know with very young children, they need to be watched very closely touch supervision and then protect so protect would be learned, CPR, especially learn CPR you know, have them put a lifejacket on put the pool fencing on duffel independently, foresight and pool fencing freestanding. But also within those, if all of us the drowning prevention feel cert using consistent messaging when we’re talking in our messaging… and I’m very pleased to say Water Safety USA all of the members of that, so, the Red Cross, the YMCA, the Boy Scouts safe kids you know the American Academy of Pediatrics they have all committed to using consistent messaging and that consistent messaging was developed by an international task force, it’s the international open water guidelines; best place to probably find it is on the Seattle Children’s Hospital website. But when, we have every organization, every person who’s working on drawing profession in the United States use the same words, then it will go in. And the analogy I use there is, if you’re driving along and you see a light that’s red, what do you do? If you see that hexagon, octagon,
Eric: Octagon, yeah
Rebecca: You stop, because you don’t have to stop and read it. It’s so engrained because that’s what you’ve been hearing over and over, if it’s a red light stop; if it’s a red light, stop; if it’s a red light, stop. So, when we say, you know, always swim near a lifeguard I’m climbing up the words and everybody everybody always says always swim near a lifeguard, always swim near a lifeguard, not swim where no lifeguard is on presence or when the no lifeguard is on duty, check to see where the lifeguard is duty, had to see if there’s a lifeguard in the lifeguard house, why didn’t you check and see what the flagstick the message gets muddied and the public doesn’t hear it because it’s muddied. But if we every single person commits to saying, always swim near a lifeguard, always swim near a lifeguard, always swim near to a lifeguard, eventually it gets in and people are like, oh look around, always swim near a lifeguard, let’s go near the lifeguard station. And so, that that using consistent words is extremely, if we’re going to communicate to the public and turn it into internalized behavioral change so that it’s sustainable.
Eric: I was thinking about my own question after I asked it and I think if I if I had to pick one, it would probably be something along the lines of you know, always swim with a buddy or never go in a pool alone you know, or always you know, be with someone in the water, you know. I think you can teach that to someone real young and if you can engrave it really well, then you might stop a toddler who’s walking out for the backyard like, oh wait I’m by myself, you know, all the way to adulthood, you know.
Got 16 year-olds who might be reckless going swimming but if they have it in their head like, oh I shouldn’t be in the water alone, and I even don’t you know, I know way too many stories adults who drowned who were excellent swimmers, who got sick or had a cramp or some kind of medical issue while swimming by themselves and ended up drowning, you know. So, you know, I think you know that messaging is good for a lifetime and…
Rebecca: I agree, I agree. I believe it’s on the international open water safety guidelines and I think one of the things that you make an outstanding point on that, that’s also stopped that a young child understands right that’s when your buddy I mean you know, you start them off in preschool; what do they do, they line them up with a buddy when you’re going anywhere, right. Preschoolers, they’re all holding hands with their buddy you know, so that is a great way of using something which a child, a very young child understands, you know, and even a child younger than preschool age. Because, their buddy is usually their parent. They are not going anywhere without their parent generally. So, if you start that, yeah hopefully and if they do that’s where we start having accidents. But yeah, I think that’s a great message to carry forward starting from a very young age.
Eric: So, you know, you’re talking before how, you know, this isn’t on the news all the time, and it just doesn’t get the coverage that it deserves, you know. Why, do you think that is?
Rebecca: Lack of marketing, yeah, lack of marketing, lack of lobbying, and I think that comes mostly from a lack a concerted effort and I am very encouraged at the change that I’ve seen in eleven years. You know, eleven years ago there were a lot of organizations doing their own thing and as I’ve gone to the global, you know, the world conference on drowning prevention you know in Vietnam and Germany and Vancouver, you started seeing that shift from individual organizations to a lot of collaborations. So… and in that eleven years you’ve seen the families united against drowning so the Family Foundation’s you know, I think there’s over 40 of them banding together saying alright, we’re more powerful as one entity, and that sort of mentality is growing within the drowning prevention community on a global level.
I see an enormous amount of collaboration, you know, I’ve got Isla from California going to Nicaragua, I’ve got, you know, Stathis in Greece working with the people in Ireland on stuff, and I’ve got Josh project in Ohio talking with Life Saving Society Canada. They incorporate their survival swim, so there’s a lot of collaboration going on and the more we commit to doing that, and that includes sharing each other’s information, then we’re going to start become a large enough entity that we have lobbying power, we have marketing power; when… and I was like the worst sort of person. And so, this isn’t me, it’s just this is reality, but when you have high profile drownings, when you have a drowning that does, for one brief newsflash, make the national news, we as a global… a global and as a national drowning prevention community need to be rising up as one voice going, you’re right, drowning is a problem and here’s what you do, here’s where it is on all these websites, this same information and if everybody all over the country is like yes, that child died, that is a tragedy and this happens to children whose parents are not famous, every single day.
And so, look the consistent messages that all of us have on our website, you know, and if you’re in Texas, go look at Colin’s Hope, and if you’re in California go look at, you know, the Drowning Prevention Network, and if you’re in oh, you know, you know, go look at the Joshua Collingsworth foundation; it’s in your community, you know, rather than just say, you know, I’ve got my little thing right here.
But, if we are all speaking as one voice, then we will have consistent attention from the press, we will be able to start pushing it and if we start pushing it, it’s not just the press, you know, the press is kind of a minor thing. Shiny object one day, boom it’s gone the next. But, what we need is the ears of the legislators because we need funding at state and federal levels, and we also need to start being able to get into the Foundation’s. I’m sure that anybody out there whose are operating a non-profit who’s, you know, googled you know, which foundations fund drowning prevention… nothing, zero. That’s because we are not lobbying as an entity to get on their radar, you know, it’s a large part of what I do, you know.
And again, kudos to especially Dr. Steve Berman and Justin Scarr, you know, out of Canada and Australia for doing the hard slog to get in front of Bloomberg philanthropies; that took years, but that’s what we need to do; we need to be acting as one entity, as one big booming voice sharing information with each other, sharing each other’s information so that we start getting the media attention, the public attention, the funding. We’ve got to have the funding we can’t do anything without money.
Eric: So, what makes you decide to do this full-time?
Rebecca: You know, it was a calling, you know. I sort of feel like when you’ve been tapped on the shoulder and said this is basically what you’ve prepared for your whole life, it’s kind of stupid to turn around and say, I don’t feel like it today. Um, my whole life, I have been an advocate for children, you know that goes back, and you can see it in a lot of different ways, you know, volunteering for the adoption Information Center, doing tutoring, working in the nursery with newborns, a lot of addictive newborns and stuff. Now, I’m very active in Scouting, I do a lot of mentoring of young people which I really like. So, the advocacy for children has been a common theme throughout my life, you know, and I try to do advocacy on a global level too. In case anybody was wondering, the United Nations is the only country who has not slide off on the United Nations right, human rights of a child…
Eric: You said the United Nations…did you mean the United States?
Rebecca: The United States is the only country in the world that has not signed, has not ratified the United Nations treaty on the rights of a child.
Eric: Really? Why?
Rebecca: Call your Congressman today. Everybody, call your Congressman today and say why hasn’t the United States ratified the United Nations Human Rights for a child because that has…I don’t know why, I don’t know why, I’ve been trying to find that out for years and there’s all sorts of, you know, the United States wants to go their own way, that has implications for drowning prevention.
If we say that the rights of a child are not valuable that we alone as a country, the only country on earth refuses to ratify that, that says we don’t value the life of a child and that has implications for our field.
So anyways, my advocacy all the way through, because I get all excited about these things and then go off, my background. My background is unusual and it makes me really uniquely qualified to look at a complex global issue. So, I have over a decade of consulting experience and typically the projects that I would be handed especially towards the end of my consulting career, were the big ugly, all right we got a boxes full of stuff, and financial forms and we have no idea what they mean. And, I would go in and three weeks later I’d come out with a binder going, all right this is how you track all the money, and this is what you need to do to fund all the accounts. So, that mentality of analysis and, I guess investigation or something that comes naturally, but I’ve also had professional training.
Then my first masters is from Kellogg School of Management, that’s an international. So, my goal draw towards international, international management, marketing and then economics. And so, that speaks to the fact that we need to market to the issue, but we also need to do it in a cost-effective way. We can’t just say we have a great idea people throw money at it. That does not work, I want I want to see bottom lights and results I want to see things that are cost effective and sustainable, and then as a result of my consulting and the work that I did in my first master’s, I thought plans are interesting, you know, financial documents, statistics… I adore statistics, they’re one of my favorite things but if people aren’t willing to implement them, you have nothing, you just have a good idea.
And so, I went and got my second master’s from London School of Economics in organizational Social Psychology, and I did a lot of work there on issues related to gender and group dynamics in particular, because like I said, you can have the best plan in the world, you can have a business plan and your financials all stack up, and it looks brilliant and your statistics are awesome, they’re so convincing; but if you can’t convince people to change your behavior, you don’t have anything. And so, that background that I have which really comes out to almost by definition, social marketing, which is social marketing is not social media, social marketing is how do you use market forces to change behavior for public good.
And so, rather than convincing you to drink either Pepsi or Coke, I’m convincing you to change your behavior and your attitudes and your behavior around water and so, all of that past history of my came up and when I first learned about drowning and agreed to write that first business plan, it was like wow, this is a major global problem and I can do something about it. I have the skills, I have the background, I have, like I said, I’ve lived in three other countries, I’ve traveled I don’t know how many, I can do something about this. And so, that’s why I’m here every single day, whether I, you know, in some days, I wake up and I’m like I’m not doing anything, I’m not accomplishing anything, what’s the point and then I turn on the computer and I get right back to it. Because, I have enough days where people call going, I changed what I was doing because of something you wrote, and this is how it has changed things in my country.
Eric: When you first got started 11 years ago, did you think you was could be an easier problem to solve than it turned out to be?
Rebecca: Absolutely, first of all, I thought I’d be in and out in three months and with the hubris that I frequently see and I have a lot of sympathy with now hmm… with people who are new to the field or who have recently lost a child; they look at it and they think well, here this is obvious, there’s outright solutions.
Eric: I’m gonna start an organization to make sure this never happens to anybody else, you know, finally someone’s gonna do something.
Rebecca: Yeah, and I was that person, I’m like, I have awesome degrees, I can fix this, and it’s complex, it is complex. So no, I did not think I would still be doing it for this long. I do think that the organization that I’ve started now, Makes the Minute Matter, our focus is we raise awareness, we provide education and we raise funding for skills based training program, and that’s an important differentiation. We are not offering a skills-based training program. What our goal is basically to be the funnel to raise awareness with the Foundations, the legislature, the people, with the money, the public and create a demand for that information.
And then, I have like I said at the beginning, I work with the coolest people in the world so all of you out there, you know, and my truly expansive global network, I think I probably have one of the best largest global networks in the world and in our field. I can then funnel money, I can funnel attention to all of them through my organization. And so, I’m a conduit, what I’ve done is realized I’m like, I’m not going to be the expert on swimming, I’m not going to be the expert on pool fencing, I’m not going to be expert on lifejackets that’s not my… that’s not my field. What I am good is it connecting, and so raising awareness marketing the issue, and then connecting the people who want to make a difference with the resources in their community, you know. So, if you’re …if you contact my organization and say, you know, I used to live in Sri Lanka, I just have you know, I have such a deep relationship with that country, I know you know they have problems, can you help me.
And, I’m like, yes I know the organization there, it’s Christina properties, you know, I can swim canoe and she’s doing amazing work and I can help. I can either direct you right there, or we will fund them through my organization. And at that point, this critical thing… I also can collect the data, so if I’m collecting data from all the organizations that we are funding, then I’m creating a pool of data that makes it harder for foundations and legislators and the United Nations to ignore. Like I said earlier, 59 percent of World Health Organization members don’t count drowning as a cause of death. So, we don’t have the statistics to compete with AIDS or malaria or cholera or anything, you know, trying to think of what a guinea worm. So, that’s also part of what my organization was built to fill in the gaps, and create a consolidated effort, basically to create a giant spotlight onto all the organizations working in drowning prevention.
Eric: I mean that makes a lot of sense, you know, and I think that, you know, knowing exactly, you know, kind of what your niche is, is important because I see a lot of organizations that are kind of shot gunning everything; they’re trying to do all things for all people, and I think that’s destined for failure I think you know, your, you know, your laser beam focus, you have a much higher chance of achieving the goals that you set forward for yourself. So, we were talking before we got started that I noticed that you rebranded to make them in a matter. So, first why the name?
Rebecca: Actually, that came over a bottle of champagne with friend and full credit to Cindy Hanlon, Cindy is on our board; actually I would really encourage people to go to maketheminutematter.org and look at our board, and I look at our advisory board. Because, I think those two things really speak to the commitment of the organization. But, Cindy and I she’s a friend of mine she lives here, and her daughter’s the same age as mine, we were sitting around having a glass of champagne and I had crunched a bunch of numbers and said, you know, realistically, we can say one child drowns every minute. And I’m like, in one minute the process of Johnny begins in five minutes brain damage and 10 minutes death, and it is a matter of minutes to start teaching people, you know, you have to put in an independent course, you know, freestanding four-sided fence, the life jackets, the sign up for swimming lessons. I said, we are literally talking, you know, stuff that takes minutes to do, and Cindy is when, I say she’s an expert in marketing and branding that does not do her justice. She is the one who teaches people like Coke and Pepsi how to market; she’s currently working for Tyson Foods teaching them how to market that’s her job is inside, you know, branding development and marketing and teaching people. And, she’s like, ‘Make the Minute Matter’. I’m like boom, goosebumps, that’s it. And, I get a lot of well, you know, if you’re gonna be in drowning prevention, you should have something about drowning prevention in your name. and, I’m like yes but if you look at how you change attitudes and behaviors, it’s positive changes; people don’t change for negative things. The negative messages they may do for as long as you’re watching them to say basically do that or, you know, you’re gonna get in trouble and as soon as they leave the room, they’re gonna go do whatever they want to do. But, positive changes in attitudes and behavior become sustainable, becomes internalized like we’re saying that, look both ways before you cross the street, so the same thing applies to water safety drowning prevention. If we want to get people’s attention, parents are bombarded with stuff; they don’t want to hear one more thing they have to do, because otherwise, their child is going to die. And so, what we’re trying to do is break it down into if, you have a minute, you have a minute, you have a minute can cause your child to die, but a minute can also save their life. And so, creating a drowning prevention organization and our logo does have the water drop; I love our logo, credit to Ryan Politis who did our logo and all of our you know graphic design stuff. She took all of my words and this came up with something wonderful. But that’s why, it’s to create an organization that is dedicated to ending drowning but by doing it through positive sustainable and cost effective behavioral change.
Eric: And I think that the positive approach is the right one, you know. I even prefer and is still not completely positive, but I like water safety over drowning prevention all day, every day, you know. In fact, I was talking to an organization that had ‘drowning prevention’ in its name and I had recommended that they change it to ‘water safety’, you know. I’d much rather you be the National Water Safety Association than drowning prevention, and you know, I think it makes a lot more sense, and I think people respond better to it. And what you think to yourself isn’t even that positive, you know, that’s just one more step you know, from the bottom of the barrel, you know.
Rebecca: Yeah, I know it’s interesting, it’s complex. I raised that same issue actually, with Steve here at the Vietnam conference a number of years ago, and I agree you know, I talked… if you look at the website and you look at stuff I write, you see a lot about water safety, less about drowning prevention. Because, one is more positive, proactive; learn about being safe around the water, one is you’ve got to prevent drowning, this is a difficult thing. But again, Steve pointed out they’d actually done focus groups and found, and I think this is especially true. Once you get outside of the United States, you know, when you’re in low and middle income countries, if you save water safety to people, it means clean water right, or you know, flood prevention. And so, that’s understanding the population you’re talking to as well, so… and that makes it more complex. I agree I like using water safety, it’s a positive thing. But at some point, you have to tell them this is because you have to prevent drowning. So, how do you find that balance? I don’t know yet, you look … when you found that but it’s a difficult one, and it’s a very good point, you know, to make the positive change. You need to draw people to something you want, you want people to request stuff, they want to learn about water safety, you know. So, we kind of have to make… it’s a little bit of carrot and stick, you know, you have to push them there a little bit. With drowning prevention and then pull them in with we can teach your water safety.
Eric: So, I’m guessing that, if you’re gonna do this new organization that it has a new spin from, you know, other organizations out there. So, what you know, what does Make the Minute Matter doing differently than other, you know, water safety organizations?
Rebecca: I would say the biggest differentiation is we are a hardcore business focus. The business disciplines that are underlying the organization, and again I can… and my board is extraordinary by anybody’s definition and so is my advisory board. And the board was created to intentionally create the perfect brain basically. So, I’ve got Cindy who is an absolute expert in marketing and branding, Sharon Robinson is our no relationship, but she’s the chairman of our board, she is the senior vice president of Zurich insurance during actuarial prices pricing. So, she understands the statistics we have, Dr. Julie Gilchrist who is most recently, the medical epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control. So, Julie pie knows more about drowning statistics in the United States than anybody else. I’ve got Dan Graham who knows more about watering rescue water and working, actually implementing good programs that are sustainable in low and middle income countries than anybody else, and he’s out of Wales or out of the UK.
I’ve got Amy Davis, my god, Amy has her law degree, she’s got her master’s in international relations from Cambridge and she’s got her master’s in public health at Yale. And so, hardcore researcher, but also understanding the intersection of international law and public health, and I’ve got Tiana Bataille who is an expert in corporate litigation, the big picture you know. The really complex banks too big to fail legal aspects of looking and she has a real track record. She started up an organization in Chicago dedicated to ending human trafficking, she started …she was on the board of an organization a Leadership Committee um leadership foundation in India, she was involved in drafting the Constitution for Nepal. So, in addition to the legal she brings some really high power nonprofit experience of actually launching, and I think that’s one of the things that really differentiates in a very positive way, Make the Minute Matter is that intense business focus and bringing in the best brains that I could find in different disciplines, you know. So, listening to the conversations, it’s you got a lot of people bring in different things, and so you don’t have… we were talking before the show started out the echo chamber, you know, people in drowning we all understand each other, we all use the same words, we all love each other you most of the time you know, it’s great. Well, try explaining what you do to somebody who… oh and I’m sorry, he just joined our board recently, Mark Oliverio, father of four children and a banker at Chase.
So, he’s our treasurer you know, so I’ve got somebody who’s got four young children under 10 were they real like I really care about this and the financial background to be looking at all of our financial stuff to make sure that we are doing this in a way that is we’re creating an organization that’s financially sustainable. And so, we’re putting together that perfect brain intentionally and also getting us out of the echo chamber, the only two people on that board who have direct knowledge of drowning prevention are Dan Graham and Julie Gilchrist. And then, but I’ve got lots of expertise to pull on if you look at the advisory board which I believe I’ve got about 25 people from six continents, so these are people that are truly expert in their field so I’ve got people I can draw on no matter what the issue is, say you know, or we have a question or we’re going into this country or what do you know or have you handled this. And basically, I can reach out to anybody and find the answers that we don’t have.
So, I think that’s probably one of our best distinguishing factors and the one I’m most proud of is the caliber of people who are involved and the fact that I have intentionally included people who are experts in drowning prevention, and people who are experts in their field who bring a totally different perspective, who know nothing about drowning so they challenge what we know. I’ve been in it now for too long, in that I forget that other people don’t know what I know and that’s dangerous; that’s when you start saying things and people are like, whatever, and so it have that juxtaposition I think is very positive and they’re just totally awesome people.
Eric: Yeah, when you get a little too into the weeds, you know, I was having it you know, an argument with somebody ,I forget which one it was it was, probably near drowning risk, non fatal drowning; it might have been even sillier than that, it might have been, you know, it was… it was drowning is the number one unintentional cause of death for children, one to four versus drowning is the number one accidental cause of death for children one to four. And you know, I’m you know hearing this argument going on and at one point, I was like who cares. Like, I mean you know, if she’s like what’s really important, I’m like, I’m sure it is but not for him, for me. I mean it is for me, because I’m in it, but your average mom like we’re not saving any lives in this conversation. And, we’ve been talking about this, zero lives have been saved you know, so I’m gonna go do something to save his lives, and when you guys are done figuring out what you want me to say let me know and I’ll use the words you guys decide. But, you know, I can’t waste my time in this minutia you know,
Rebecca: I can’t agree enough with that part, you should pull it out as a soundbite and just use it for our entire conversation. But, I absolutely agree with that. Yes, we can talk about the minutiae of what things should talk behind, but we also have to understand that that’s not how the public is talking right, and we aren’t speaking their language, we’re speaking ancient Greek and they’re speaking wrath right they’re so far apart,
Eric: You know, the fact that the water safety community will cannibalize and vilify each other for using the word near drowning, that’s the word that the entire rest of the world uses. You know, I will get shredded to pieces if I accidentally that on our Facebook by us, you know, by our community but that’s the word that the rest of the world use.
Rebecca: I know I have been shredded by somebody I work with yeah, oh my god I had a moment I forgot. I’m like, I know I do too but, the point is it’s like… and when I sit down with people like even going, you know, it’s talking to the banker and what do you do. I’m work in drowning prevention and she’s like, I know about that, not the I secondary drowning, dry drowning. And you know, I’ve written about it extensively on my blog. I’m like, this is why if the public wants to talk about it we can use our words and their words, but we don’t say well, we’re not going to talk about it unless you use the words we want you to use. And that’s what has happened and so, the cut like for instance, with the banker, the conversation I had was, that’s right, a lot of people talk about secondary drowning or dry drowning, it’s all drowning, it’s all a process of drowning. So, what I did is, I used the correct terminology but I acknowledge that yes, she knew something and she had children, and she had grandchildren and she wanted to know because she doesn’t want her grandchildren to die of whatever we call it; dry drowning, secondary drowning, non-fatal drowning, the process of drowning,
Eric: Delayed drowning, you know.
Rebecca: So, I could talk her through. she’s like, well how do I know? And so, I talked her through, well these are the symptoms, this is one you should go to the emergency room, this is… you know, and also was able to do in a calming sort of voice as well. But again, people within our field… and I think this is one of the biggest problems we have, this is probably the biggest thing that holds us back is staying in our silo. And yes, the terms are incredibly important, and we need to be consistent and we need to agree on them and there needs to be medical and research reasons behind them, but that shouldn’t stop us from engaging the public in the words they use, you know. Like, I have a good example, I have like a really messed up shoulder from a couple of bad injuries on a sailboat, and everyone saw. And so, I was doing some gardening and stuff so, I tell you I have a messed-up shoulder right, you get it don’t you?
Rebecca: My shoulder’s messed up. So, I go to the therapist, he works on it and I’m like yeah, it’s that spot. He’s like so, it’s the subscapularis… I’m like, yeah, what you said. That thing, yeah, absolutely. I don’t need to know that, I just need to say yeah, that spot on my shoulder. If we don’t get it taken care of, I’m gonna lose the use of my arm. You know we need to remember that yes, we can help communicate the correct terminology and we can move the public towards that, but if they want to talk to us right now, this very minute with secondary drowning, then let’s talk with them right now about secondary drowning while using the correct terminology.
Eric: If someone wants to tell me about their daughter who had a near drowning incident, I don’t want to stop her and say no, no, no, no, she had a non-fatal drowning. I know yeah, you feel better, it was a non-fatal, I know, she’s hooked up to oxygen and she doesn’t talk anymore. But, it was… it wasn’t a new year drowning right? Yeah, I think that you know getting caught up in the weeds of it hurts us more than it helps us a lot of times
Rebecca: Absolutely, I completely agree, completely agree and that’s part of what my organization is trying to do, which is to, you know… and there’s with the non-fatal drowning, I’m gonna forget the organization name again, Making it Minute Matter, he’s one of the sponsors…Justin Samprut
Eric: Doctor Delborders
Rebecca: Yes, he also and Colins Hope are now working in the same new organization this is driving me nuts, I just saw something from them yesterday which…
Eric: Yeah, they have a great part about a secondary… like a website about secondary drowning that’s really good.
Yeah, they …and it’s…
Eric: I know what you’re talking about
Rebecca: ** Justin and Alyssa, I just for… I just promoted something about you getting votes yesterday on this, but, what they did, they’ve gone to a ** and they created this great website and this great information about what is this, and this is what non-fatal drowning is and this is what it looks like and this is when you need to get emergency help. They’ve done a fantastic job of translating it to the public that’s the sort of resource that all of us need to be sharing, because that helps move the conversation so that people start using the correct terminology. But, you know, even emergency room doctors you talk to, emergency room doctors they’re using the wrong terminology so if you show up at the hospital, you use whatever terminology is going to get you the medical care you need. Well, we as a field have a responsibility to help move the public to the correct terminology; we can use their terminology and then we also use the correct terminology. Yes, it’s known as secondary drowning but it’s non-fatal, dry, it’s the process of drowning.
Eric: Absolutely and…
Rebecca: Its all the process of drowning
Eric: You talk about doctors, I spoke the other day to a pediatrician whose daughter drowned and she said herself that, you know, she didn’t know nearly enough, you know, and she’s a doctor, she’s a pediatrician and she thought she knew and, you know, she was woefully ignorant, you know. So, you said the organization that Alyssa and Justin went to, was …is it a marketing company?
Rebecca: Actually, it was ** building, CP, did you see the advertising company? They went to them and said, we’re worried about this, we’re going to help you out – I will send you the name of the website. I was so embarrassed but what happens early in the morning um more than just water, something like that. Anyways, they said yes, we will take your concerns about educating the public about what to do… what it’s really called, and what you do and we will put that into terminology the public can understand and they’ve done a brilliant job of it. Absolutely outstanding.
Eric: I wanted to know the name of the marketing company cuz they did a really good job
Rebecca: The did a fantastic job
Eric: Always looking for good resources on that front. So, but you’ve done a really good job in taking a messaging and kind of distilling it down and you made a character named Jabari which ties into, you know, putting things in a way people can understand. And so, Jabari is a lion right?
Rebecca: That’s right
Eric: It’s a long time ago that I remember seeing him. So, it was either a lion or a bear and figured I had a 50/50 shot, you know. And so, tell me about Jabari
Rebecca: Okay, well the first thing is interesting. As you listen to the public, the first one which was created with my former business partner who is from Africa, um okay lion cubs actually don’t have a mane so she wanted it real. But, all the feedback I kept going was oh, it’s a cute bear and I’m like, we got out of me because people don’t know it’s a lion. But, two things, one the rationale behind Jabari for… the reason for Jabari still stands today, and that’s why Make a Minute Matter is really going to be using Jabari aggressively. It is… he is really the crux of our approach and that is back to how do you reach children? Through positive repetitive consistent messages until the lessons of how to act are incorporated. Well, and I’ve written a paper it’s on, script D if anybody want to look wants to look. It’s called, Why Jabari, it’s like a hardcore research paper Dr. Stathis ever meet us you know, edited in depth with me, talking about how like when you’re reaching young children, the best way to reach them is through stories and through animated characters. Because, children respond to stories and through animated characters. Children relate to them in a different way, and so if anybody’s had young children, you see how they relate to, you know, the Sesame Street characters or you know, the Disney characters there’s just a different way of relating. And so, Jabari was created to be the character that teaches water safety correctly, and we know that children can’t all do it and all children can’t act well all the time, and children actually know that about themselves. So, Jabari has a whole host of friends; if you go to Jabariupthewater.com and you can read about all of his different friends, you know, a Wanda and Jabulani and Gugu and they all have different personality traits so that children can find the personality traits that they relate to. They are like, yeah, I’m kind of that, I’m like that character, but then they can also be constantly trying to be safe around water like Jabari. So, Jabari though is then the visual Jabari is the main one and the point behind that is that whatever our awareness and education programs are, and Jabari would have to be it has to be incorporated into anybody who gets funding for the skills based training programs. Because, it provides the visual prompt for behavior. So, you can’t expect a child to remember stuff especially when they’re one and two and three with all the time. And so, if you have Jabari on your fence or Jabari on your swimsuit or Jabari, you know, near the water, then the visual prompt of the correct behavior will help the child remember, I’m not supposed to go near the fence without my mom or dad or my grandparents, I’m not supposed to go in the water without this, I’m not supposed to do that or I am supposed to do this, Jabari said I needed to wear a life jacket if I’m on a boat so I’m going to wear my Jabari lifejacket. And so, he’s not just a cute character, in fact, I hope he’s cute I actually very attached to him, but he’s far more than that. He is a way of marketing water safety and the correct behaviors around water in a way that reinforces the behavior and actually acts as a visual prompt for when a child is excited and is more likely to forget. They’re going to have that visual prompt of oh, you’re right, I can’t run in until I have a parent
Eric: And what has to Jabari been up to so far?
Rebecca: Jabari has been kind of hanging out, not doing much, he’s been on… he’s got an awesome website I encourage people to go visit it. That was one of my earlier attempts to actually… I’ve been constantly, almost from the beginning that I’ve been in this, been working to draw attention to all the programs that are out there because are so many amazing people and programs out there. And so, the Jabari if you go onto the Jabari website, the blog for a period, I had people saying write about what you do you know. So, we’ve got the kauai lifeguards out there that was one of my favorite ones. Their program of putting the rescue tubes out there. So, the different ways of trying to draw attention to build a community, that’s the biggest thing I want to do, is build this community of people and organizations who will share each other’s information. Beyond that, Jabari has been in a holding pattern waiting for Make the Minute Matter, you know, and Make a Minute Matters I said, was developed only after I had done significant research in what needs to be done, how we need to approach it. I also wrote a book called ignite changes, how to use social marketing to change behavior and that’s at, ignitechanges.com. And ignitechanges.com is almost… well it is a template for Make the Minute Matter, it was my way to go alright, I’ve connected eight nine years worth of research in the field and talked to so many people around the world about what they do and what’s working and what challenges they encounter in the different cultures, and when I say cultures I don’t even just mean going to Bangladesh for different cultures; I mean the culture of Chicago versus Florida versus Texas versus California, you know, and within the African-American community, in the Hispanic community, in the Native American community and the white population, and the recent immigrants you’ve got subcultures all over the place. And so, I took all that information and wrote an outline, this is what this is, everything that would need to be included, and then I wrote the book out… it was a way of getting my head straight, but also because the technique can be used in basically any social change environment, whether you’re working on reducing tobacco use or reducing drunk driving or tackling obesity, those techniques of social marketing that I’m using with Make the Minute Matter to end drowning, to change behavior positively can be used in anything else. And so, Jabari has been hanging out looking adorable on his website and now, he’s had a nice wrist and he is going to go out there and work.
Rebecca: He’s ** for long enough
Eric: So, what is in the work for Make the Minute Matter for the next 12 months; what’s your plan to get started?
Rebecca: We’re launching… so the biggest thing that I’m focusing on now then… so sure you know, you’re starting up a couple of different businesses, starting up a non-profits, a couple more different hoops that you have to jump through. So, we just finished doing our fundraising registration all over the country, so I’m starting to**specifically focus on fundraising so that we can get this off the ground and then continuing my usual work of networking and finding resources so that one of the first things we will be doing as soon as money starts coming through the door, we’ll be focusing some-what on awareness but we will also be immediately getting money out the door to skill space training programs because I don’t think that kids need to keep drowning just while I get my awareness program going; we have programs that work
Eric: What are those programs look like?
Rebecca: Skills-base… when I say skills based training program I mean swimming lessons, survival swim lessons, CPR lessons, lifeguard training, and if somebody can pitch something else that sounds like it’s skills based training more than willing to listen. But, it comes down to what we know works, we know that swimming lessons and survival swim lessons reduced drowning rates. In Bangladesh that was shown to survival swim reduces drowning rates by 93 percent, that is a good return on investment; lifeguard training, If you swim near a lifeguard, your chances of drowning go down to one in 18 million. So, lifeguard… having lifeguards around, that is a good way of reducing drowning; and CPR, we know that you can have a non-fatal drowning accident turn into not having brain damage or minimizing the effect if you have CPR with breath at the scene. And so, those skills base that we know that we actually have we have research backing up, yes, these things, actually reduce drowning, that’s what we’re focusing on.
Eric: I talked to somebody yesterday, actually and I heard an idea I’d never heard before. Her name is Melon Dash, which is the greatest name ever, and she focuses on training adults how to swim right, and she believes and I tend to agree with her, that training adults how to swim helps children be safe because if adults know how to swim, teach our children how to swim and you have this multi-generational approach as well. So, the way she’s attacking water safety and keeping children safe is by making sure adults try to swim and there’s a lot of them that don’t know, you know. I thought that was a really interesting way of attacking it, you know.
Rebecca: Yeah, Mel is awesome, and she’s done fantastic work and I agree, you know, it’s interesting. Um Christina ** I had the same thing. You know, after the tsunami, the 2004 tsunami killed half a million people, 80 percent of them were women and children because they couldn’t swim. Maybe you can actually survive a tsunami, but if you don’t know how to swim you have no chance. So, she went over and thought well, I’m gonna teach the women this one because then they’re gonna teach the children. And, she actually ended up focusing on young women who weren’t mothers yet and it’s had enormous success. But it’s the same mentality if you teach the adults and frequently, if you teach the women they’re going to teach the children. They’re going to see how that it’s important
Eric: Because I think swim schools are similar to the statistics about people who have gone to college, you know, if you’ve gone to college there’s a much higher chance that your kids will, you know. And, I think the adults go to swim having a much higher likelihood of teaching that can swim.
Rebecca: I don’t know the statistics but I’m more than willing to bet you are absolutely right on that.
Eric: It feels right you know,
Sometimes you don’t need statistics, sometimes common sense will help. you know, if it’s the same for college is probably the same for us as well, you know.
Eric: So, you know, what do you think you know, other organization that should be doing to help the cause?
Rebecca: Share, everybody share, please share. You know, when I did my rip current event, when there’s something like that out there, you know, don’t be afraid to put other people’s information on your website or on your Facebook or on your Twitter or on your Instagram. Say, hey this is what’s happening here, it does not take away from your market, share it, it builds it. Because people’s mentality is, oh I want to be involved in something that’s popular, I want to be hanging with the good kids, you know, the good group. And so, the more we share what each other is doing, the more we create a culture of, I really want to know about this, and then we have people coming to us going, I want to know about water safety, I want to learn about drowning prevention, I want to learn how to take swim lessons, I want to learn about CPR, I want to make sure I’m swimming near a lifeguard, hey my community, how come we don’t have lifeguard on duty more often, yes, I’m willing to support that, and that only comes about if we are willing to share. So, go back to preschool when they said, you know, you got a share, there’s a, you know, everything you knew, everything you know in life you learned in preschool sharing, that’s the big one, that’s my biggest message; you’ve got to share. Send it to me, I will share whatever you catch…
Eric: Well, that make me feel good cuz we share everybody’s stuff all the time, so I’m glad they were at least, you know,
Rebecca: You and the American Sailing Association
Eric: Is that it, we were the two?
Rebecca: There are others, I’m leaving some people out I know, but amazingly enough though, out of the 350 organizations globally that we looked at to see what their social media presence was, the American Sailing Association which is not on anybody’s radar in the drowning prevention community, they are awesome at sharing things from other organizations and they have a really good following because of it. Here’s the other tack, share because it’s the right thing to do. But, share because then your audience trusts you more, your audience will come to you to see everything because you’re sharing really good information. So, you increase your statistics so it’s a win-win,
Eric: But it works, it’s worked for us, you know. So, you know, I think it’s good advice and I think it’s good for people to do, you know.
Rebecca: I know, and I have to thank you for being so willing to share and to get out there and to have me on today along with everybody else you’re interviewing, because I think having that willingness to be open, to learn, to share what everybody is doing does create the community, and the community is what’s going to get us the momentum to get the recognition, to get the funding to be able to make changes.
Eric: Yeah, I think you need that, you know, I think you need a lot of voices not to use the word behind your head there, to, you know, to make this really a reality and to move the needle in a way that makes sense. I think you know, as you’ve known and experienced over the last 11 years you’ve been doing it, the 20 years that I’ve been doing this, that there’s a lot of people not to be a pun, but a lot of people treading water, you know, and very little forward momentum, you know. And, I’ve been a part of a few nonprofits and on the board of a handful, and you know, I’m not anymore because there …nothing was happening you know. I’m, you know, I run a business and I expect the things that in to run like a business and when I see, you know, endless meetings and these, you know, two hour conference calls once a month and zero being accomplished, I just can’t do that, you know. It just… it’s painful to sit and, you know, I have better things to do for me and for the cause. And there’s a lot of people in those organizations who think that they’re doing something which is probably the biggest travesty, is you know, that they’re spending you know 20 hours a month on this cause, thinking that it’s going towards you know, making a difference and the reality is this they’re doing very, very little, you know.
Rebecca: Right, which is sad because there’s so much talent and there’s so much passion in our field, you know, it never fails to amaze me the positive energy in the field and that’s because we work with water. I mean, you know, we can say water is used in all the world’s main religions as a powerful force, you know. Anybody who’s taken a bath, you know, taking a shower, had a glass of water knows how life-giving, how powerful that is and so the people within the drowning prevention community have that sense, you know, there’s this palpable, no happiness or sense of peace and calm like. So, share it, share it. People are they want to do well, they want to change, they want people to have that positive relationship with water and to not drown, to be able to enjoy the water without drowning, that’s what I see the most is wanting to share that. And so, let’s create a community where we’re sharing that, not just with our community but with everyone.
Eric: Well, I think that’s a perfect way to wrap this up, that’s awesome thank you. Where can people find out more about you and Make the Minute Matter and Jabari and anything else you’re doing?
Rebecca: Well, first place, again, thank you so much for having me on today, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it and I’ve really enjoyed it. Um, to find out more, go to maketheminutematter.org, you can also, you’ll find Jabari there, you can click through, but that’s also Jabariofthewater.com. I’m on Facebook, I’m on Twitter, I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Pinterest, we’re looking into Instagram,
Eric: Instagram is important.
Rebecca: Yeah, I know, but you know, I’ve got researchers going like, alright how …what’s our position out there? What do we do? And then, also I’ve done a lot of writing, if people are interested in looking at improving their business, improving their approach, improving how they relate with their target audiences, I’ve written blogs for a couple of years that’s at rebeccawarerobinson.com on the blog, um but there’s a lot of good… I mean, basically you can get to it, two masters degrees, right, they’re delivered to your inbox if you just go back and look through a couple of those so but again most of all if you’re interested in being part of a community. If I’m not sharing your stuff already, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if I haven’t mentioned that I would love to meet you, um like I said, my favorite thing with this is the people I know around the world, it really does make my work deeply rewarding every single day.
Eric: Perfect, well thank you so, so much, I really enjoyed it and I’m glad you did this with me, and I hope we talk to you in really soon.
Rebecca: My pleasure and again thank you so much for having me on.
Eric: Absolutely, thanks.