Our regular viewers may remember today’s guest. Alissa Magrum is the Executive Director of Colin’s Hope and our first return guest on Child Safety Source! During each episode, our own Eric Lupton interviews a water safety expert who works to help keep children safe. Alissa Magrum fits this bill perfectly.
Alissa and Colin’s Hope
As with many of the organizations we’ve highlighted on Child Safety Source, it began with a devastating personal tragedy. Alissa’s son, Colin Holst, was just four years old when he drowned in a public pool. This incident occurred under what many would wrongly believe to be “impossible” circumstances. Colin’s family members were nearby, as were lifeguards. Even in situations like this, tragedy can strike. For just a few moments, the boy was separated from the other children. Soon, he was discovered unresponsive and unconscious in the shallow end of the pool. Sadly, it was too late to save Colin.
Following the loss of their son, Colin’s parents were understandably devastated. They also wanted to prevent similar tragedies from happening again. In 2008, they founded Colin’s Hope as a non-profit organization in their community. Through education, Colin’s Hope aims to raise water safety awareness by educating children, parents and lifeguards about drowning prevention.
While no-one is drown-proof, drowning is preventable. Alissa’s prevailing mission is to raise water safety awareness. After all, drowning is the top cause of accidental death for children under five years of age and a leading cause for ages 1-14. Everyone needs to beware of unlikely drowning hazards and of the dangers of having a false sense of security.
You can watch our first interview with Alissa right here at this link. Once again, Eric and the whole team at Life Saver Pool Fence would like to thank her for taking the time.
To learn more about Colin’s Hope, please visit the official website.
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Below is a direct transcript of the Child Safety Resource interview with Alissa Magrum from September 18th, 2018:
Episode 43 – Alissa Magrum Part 2
Eric Lupton: And like and that, we’re live on the Internet again, like magic.
Alissa Magrum: Good morning.
Eric: How is it going?
Alissa: It’s going.
Eric: I think this is true, you are our first ever repeat guest.
Eric: You’re the first person to come back on a second time, which is both fitting and exciting.
Alissa: Oh, perfect, I like being first at things. Not that I’m competitive or anything, but I do like being first.
Eric: I think you’re like me and I’m very competitive. So, I think that’s…
Alissa: I choose when I’m competitive and when I’m not.
Eric: That works. Yeah, I think I’d say the same thing. A lot of things I don’t care about, but when I am competitive about something, it’s full on.
Alissa: Well, you also need to know when you can be competitive and when it’s….
Eric: Right. There are things that I am not competitive in. You would beat me in a 5K for sure, but other things I might do alright in. Bob Price says hi. Hey Bob Price.
Alissa: Oh, hi Bob.
Eric: Bob Price is one of my favorite humans.
Alissa: Me too.
Eric: He’s speaking of people who get my weird sense of humor, he’s one of them.
Alissa: He’s a good guy.
Eric: He is. So, I was just talking about your background, which I think is really cool.
Alissa: You like it? Yes.
Eric: I do.
Alissa: You want me to tell you about it?
Eric: I would love you to tell me. Yes.
Alissa: Okay. Well, so what is behind me is the pieces of the water safety with Collin and friends’ curriculum, which is our curriculum that is classroom based, can be paired with swim lessons or standalone a classroom. It’s dry land water safety education for ages three to seven, but it’s very flexible. So, we have… we can go a little bit younger with certain pieces and we can go older with other pieces. So, what you have here we can talk as much or as little about it; this is a water safety relay game think twister, but with water safety beanbags. And then, this here, which I’m sure I’m going to knock all this down as soon as I do this… is the main tenants of the curriculum, which is the whole hand rules. And so, these are all velcroed on here, so it’s designed perfectly for the preschool aged and up to first grade and it’s fun for older kids too. But we teach five rules to water safety. Kids no rules and kids know the hand and so it’s a simple way to teach them how to be safer around water before they even go to the water.
So, like I said, we love to put it with swim lessons when we can, but that’s not always possible. Transportation and cost and things like that are challenging, but this can go into any type of classroom or camp setting. We partner with the Zach Foundation, which I think you know them. They do water safety camps with boys and girls clubs and they utilized our curriculum this year to go alongside their curriculum. We’ve been using with the Y.M.C.A. here in Austin and San Antonio when we pair it with swim lessons and we’re working with multiple preschools and schools and camps to just get it to as many children and families.
And the coolest part about it, because I am an evaluation nerd. I believe then doing programs that work and making sure that they work and if they don’t work you change things so that they do work and you make impact. And we have evaluated this program, we have a… she was a PhD student at the time, now it’s Dr. Kelly [Frendell]. But she did her entire dissertation on evaluating this curriculum. So, to see are we really changing things? Are we… we found with statistical significance, that we are in fact raising kids with water safety knowledge with this curriculum. And then we partner with swim lessons, we’re increasing their swimming skills as well. So, to our knowledge, there is not a lot out there in drowning prevention in terms of curriculum that’s evidence based in research.
And we’ve done it because we want to make sure we’re actually making an impact, because why do you want to do things that are not impacting. So, I’m really excited. At some point I’ll give you a tour of all the materials, we’ve got tons of stuff; water safety bingo, which we’ve had for years but it’s now freshened up. And this little guy, our character of Collin with his friend buddy the seal, we decided that we needed a little character to interact with kids and he’s gotten rave reviews. So, anyway, that’s what’s behind me because I’m really excited about it and we’re moving out of the summer and some of our summer messaging and into trying to get this into as many schools and places as humanly possible.
Eric: So, I’m curious about the methodology you used in terms of effectiveness and did you change anything? So, did she through the process of analyzing it, were the things you found that got better?
Alissa: Sure, so we did pre-imposed surveys. So, we surveyed kids before they had any interventions; so, before they had any of the curriculum at all and there’s kind of a funny story because the first time that we piloted it, we did not realize that the children that were coming were all Spanish speakers. And so, we had a script in English to do the surveys and so quickly we got one of the teachers, one of the students’ teachers who did speak really great Spanish, much better than our evaluation team. And she recorded voice memos, recorded the script in Spanish on a voice memo, we played it back to the kids. That was our very first “oh my gosh, we didn’t think that through”. So, that was the first time, but since then, over the last couple of years we’ve been continuing to evaluate it. And we did, we change some things, we definitely tightened up some of the messaging; for example, the first round of the curriculum. There was a question that asked kids, if when they got to a gate, should they open it or close it and or should an adult open it or close it? And the pictures, we were using pictorial surveys, because the kids were four and most of them couldn’t read or some of them didn’t speak English.
So, the pictures were confusing and so they were not understanding the pictures. So, we changed some of the pictures in the surveys. We had a question where it asked them, what’s the safest thing you can use to help you float if you can’t swim? So, we had a picture of a child… I should have the surveys. But we had a picture of a child with water wings, which we know are not a choice that we want them to make. We had a picture with a child with a noodle, you know, pool noodle. Which is again, one we did not want them to choose and then we had a child wearing a life jacket. We realized that the noodle, the wings and the water wings and the life jacket weren’t a different color. So, they weren’t… the kids were not focusing in on those pieces of the picture. So, the next round of surveys, we change them. So, all the water wings, the noodles and the life jacket were all red for example, on the children.
So, we did a lot in changing just the methodology and then certainly when we looked at the results, we focused and tightened up the curriculum and that’s how we ended up with these five specific rules and changed it to something that would really resonate with the kids. And teachers are used to teaching rules, kids are used to learning rules. So, we use the evaluation to inform certainly the changes in the program and then how we roll that out.
So, we’re incredibly excited about it. You know, this is something that I feel can really help us move the needle on both educating kids about how to be safer around water and about developing safer water safety behaviors from the ground up. And at the same time, there’s a parent education piece. So, all the parents, we can parent orientations, but we also get… you’ve seen these before. This is our water guardian badged and with water safety tips. And parent information goes home with the kids when they’re on the program; not only just that, but then half sheets that are “we learn this today and here’s how you can practice it at home”. So, we’re trying to bridge that get the kids’ education out of the water and then get the parents education as well and then we can put the swim lessons in, it’s a beautiful thing.
We can’t you know, logistically, there aren’t… sometimes the swim lessons piece isn’t possible. But this started out as an eight day program that we did in partnership with the Y.M.C.A. here in Austin. Half of the kids that would come, would go to swimming lessons and the other half would stay in the gym and do the curriculum and then they would switch halfway through. So, they got eight days in a row. We’ve now tightened it up, where you can do it as an eight day model, so there’s eight lessons that are about fifteen to twenty minutes long. You can make them as long as you want, but now we have it where you can do it in five days. If you only have one day, you can do lesson number one, which is the basic rule. So, it can stand alone in a variety of settings and so we’re really excited about it. It’s on our website, we’ve got some testimonial videos from a superintendent of schools, a teacher, some swim instructors and some of our partners, [inaudible 00:08:48] Foundation, who I think you’ve met Joe Byrd, [inaudible 00:08:52] daughter Tristen.
So, we’re doing this program in partnership with them in San Antonio, which is just down, about an hour away from us here in Austin. So, it’s exciting. I mean, this is where we feel like we can really make a difference in saving lives with education. And education that works and we will keep evaluating it to keep making it better. So, we’re, I guess excited is even an understatement, because when this stuff was rolling, we were literally at the printer when the stuff was rolling off the press and there are some Facebook lives out there I’m sure that you could dig up. And it was like kids in the candy store or something you know, watching this stuff come out.
Eric: That’s really, really, cool. And I think you’ve done a really good job with it. So, go ahead and take me through the tour.
Alissa: Wow. Okay. Well, okay, well so, we talked about this. This is lesson one. Well let me start back, we’ll put that there for a second. This is and we have it in English and Spanish. I don’t know if you can see these, but these are curriculum guide for instructors. So, it used to be in a binder and there was like a ton of information and there will be videos that go alongside this. So, if you were teaching this for example in a classroom, in a preschool or at a camp, you would get this. On one side it tells you day by day. Let’s say, I’ll do it in English for… you know, my Spanish is good but not that good. So, it’s color coded- so day one, this is lesson one, lesson two is yellow, lesson three, lesson four, goes down to lesson eight. And then on the back, everything is color coded, so for example, this is a song “wait for a grown up”, because that’s one of the very first day… the very first whole hand rule, is wait for a grown up. So, that… let’s see. This goes with the yellow here; so yellow corresponds with yellow. So, it’s all color coded, really teacher friendly and our program director Jessica Brown, that is her background, she’s in early childhood education and this was her baby to make this thing as user friendly as possible.
So, they get this and then there’s also… This is… we’ll just pretend what they were doing the first lesson. So, all of these things come off, right. So, preschoolers love to stick things on things. So, the first one…
Eric: I love to stick things on things.
Alissa: I do too, right. I know. So, they first put the hold hand rules on there, which this comes off. And then the first rule is wait for a grown up. And we try to teach kids do not go near the water, don’t go around the water without a grownup. So, we have our little icon here and these match up with the icons that are on our water safety bingo game, which comes later. And on the Water Safety relay game that’s here. So, it all it all builds on each other.
The second rule is learn to swim, where we talk about how important it is to learn to swim, take swimming lessons, swim with an adult and swim where there are lifeguards whenever possible. So, we get those messages into the kids. This is the third rule, is wearing life jackets and we talk about the importance of wearing life jackets and not using water wings and pool noodles and those sort of things.
And on this one, we have an activity which I think I can say thank the U.S. Coast Guard for it. But it’s called “orange, you like to float”. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that activity where you put… one of those little cutie oranges in water. And if it’s in its peel, then the peel, we say is like their life jacket, then it floats. If you take the peel off, what happens Eric, what do you think happens?
Eric: I’m guessing it sinks.
Alissa: It sinks. So, we talk about if you’re not a competent swimmer, if you haven’t learned to swim that a life jacket can keep you floating and that’s also a science experiment. And so it times up, where we can, we have this curriculum timing up. With here in Texas, it’s called the [teaks], which it’s the Texas essential knowledge and skills that matches up with standardized testing, objectives that teachers need. So, this is attractive to pre-K teachers because we have it matched up with the things that they need to do for their classrooms anyways.
So, anyway, let’s see. And then the fourth day we go really heavy on a grownup should be watching you. And we’ll talk about the concept of the water guardian later, because I want to talk about that. And so again, these are all things that are on our water safety bingo game. And in the fifth day, is stay away from drains. And thanks to our friends at the Zach foundation- Abbey’s hope, we worked on our drain messaging there. So, we just teach kids to stay away from drains; that’s the simple message. In a later lesson, we focus more on drains and they go into things like, what can you do? Tie your hair back, don’t wear swimsuits that have strings. That the drain safety.
So, each day as we move forward through the curriculum, goes deeper into these. But the first day, the first lesson is all about these five rules. So, for example; they only had an hour to do in a classroom or something like that. You could just do this lesson and you will communicate all of these water safety messages to kids. I did it in a first grade; I was asked to do a career day at an elementary school and so I had first graders, look I’m going to test this out on them. So, I had twenty minutes and I of course needed to talk about career day and what I do, because that’s the whole purpose. But I was not going to miss the opportunity to talk about water safety.
So, I modeled this with first graders to see, did they love it? Did they get into it? And they loved it and I did it in ten minutes with first graders. And they were you know, putting all the things on the board and so that was great. So, that’s the first lesson and probably the one that stands alone if you need to, by itself. We have a whole… the day… the second day, is a learn to swim day and we have this chart and all these little icons are for all the charts. So, this is the…they talk more about this is how to swim. So, they talk about you know, waiting for a grown up. If you’re not a competent swimmer wearing life jackets…this is the one… I don’t know where this little icon is. Here it is.
This talks about don’t opening… don’t open gates and the importance of having fences that lock and close and latch and all of that. This one is, a grown up should be watching you and we really… and you’ll see me talk about it throughout this entire interview and everything that I say is having an adult water Guardian who’s watching you.
And then here is the learning how to swim and taking swim lessons. So, that’s the learn to swim chart. Then I talked about how we go into drains; this is the drain safety chart and we have more… oh, there’s an extension, I didn’t talk about this. We talk about open water, so we’re more in places where we have… like here in Austin, we have lots of lakes and rivers. So, we talk about open water safety rules. So, you can sub this out… when I want to Honduras for my swim mission, where I taught water safety and swim lessons, I used this icon a lot because obviously we were at the ocean. So, we have rules, we have extensions and things to make this flexible, which is kind of exciting.
This is again, back to the drains. This is the drain chart. I don’t know where all these icons…this is hard to do without a personal like an assistant. But anyway, it’s a Venn diagram, which teachers love because you know, that’s a classroom thing. And so, this is kind of like, what can adults do to stay safer, to keep kids and people safer around drains and what can kids do and what can everyone do? So, that’s awesome… let’s see, what else do I have here?
So, this one… I don’t want to move these because then my backdrop will go away. But this is our water safety relay, we have beanbags that these are the icons that the kids of learned and so it’s a race; line up two lines of kids and they throw a bean bag. And each of these rules has a hand motion. So, for example; stay away from drains, is this. Learn to swim, is this. Have a grown up watching you, is this. So, they have to throw a bean bag and say it lands on this one “grown up should watch you”. They have to do the hand motion and then they run to get the bean bag and then they give it to their friend. So, it’s a relay race.
And then we have our…we’ve had this for years, but we just got a refresher, our water safety bingo game, which again this goes back into all of these things that they’ve been learning. We added on this and this one is [inaudible 00:16:51] backwards; no diving. So, we talk about not diving, especially here and where we are, the lakes are not constant level. So, diving into water that you don’t how deep it is, is not a great idea. And this is where we have the open water rules here [inaudible 00:17:06] the gates.
So, we have bingo, and let’s see what else. We have… I love this and this is in Spanish, so we’ll see… sorry about this, but when we talk about life jackets, we have rules; we say that life jackets should fit tight like a hug. So, this is the hand motion for life jackets and they should…. all the buckles should be closed and so we teach them three rules of life jackets. So, it goes through again, it can be eight days or eight lessons. We used to talk about in days, I’m supposed to be talking about in lessons now. But we can go eight lessons or if you only have one, you can do, pick and choose. So, it’s really flexible and we’re just trying to get it out there to as many people and schools as humanly possible. We’re about to start a little sort of sponsor a curriculum, where people can… so say your child or your grandchild goes to a preschool and you want that preschool to have this curriculum, you can purchase the curriculum from Collin’s Hope and we will get it there and it’s your gift to the school and the whole entire school can use it. So, this… I’m kind of excited, I hope you can see these, see if I can do this. These are our bingo chips, we have these like little bingo chips that have water safety with Collin and friends. And there’s a company here in Texas that makes all wooden nickels; who knew it, right.
So, anyway, that’s the curriculum. There’s videos and all the training will be done either for teachers, where they will be done via webinar or videos. So, when we’re in person, we’d love to do personal trainings but we’re here in Austin and we want this thing to go wherever. So, that’s, that’s. There’s your tour.
Eric: That’s really fantastic. I mean, it’s really, really, cool. And I think you’re right, I don’t think there is anything on that scale even close.
Alissa: Right and it’s simple. That’s the thing we were going for, it is simple. What can kids learn and remember. And what then can we translate so that the parent… the sheets that go home to parents, you know talk to them about what they can do at home to continue the message and continue the lessons. So, we’re pretty excited about it and it’s just going to keep… we work with our Safe Kids chapters here and Safe Kids [Tara] County is getting multiple sets to loan out to their member.
[Noise in the background]
Is that me?
Eric: No, it’s good, it’s fine.
Alissa: Okay, okay. So, we’re just getting out there. Again, we’re doing it in Austin and San Antonio and beyond.
Eric: That’s really, really, cool. So, what happens….? So, school has already started for most people. If I want this in my kids’ school, how does that happen?’
Alissa: You can go to our website, that’s probably the easiest way and there’s a contact form and talk to us. I mean, there’s some different pricing structures for you know, nonprofit partner or we have a family’s united to prevent drowning partner. We’ve got different things you could buy multiple. So, for example, if you wanted to buy ten for every preschool in your area; you know, we would obviously do the cost of it, it’s a multi pricing discount. And so, our website, there is on our home page, I think it’s under water safety education. You can you go there and look at it and we’ll talk to each person individually while we can to figure out what works best.
There’s a camp model, so it’s a little bit… it’s not all of the lessons, and then there’s the full program. And you can also purchase the lessons independently. So, of course we want everyone to have it all, but…
Eric: Right, yeah actually and. Lori surround you…
Alissa: Oh, right, I see her.
Eric: She has asked how much it cost to sponsor a preschool.
Alissa: Yes. Lori go on the website because there’s multiple pricing options and obviously we work together with Lorie and the swim for a [inaudible 00:20:48] foundation. And I know she goes into preschools and reads the Clifford book and so I want her using this. So, we’ll work it out, but….so, the pricing structure is on the website and then we’ll work with people. This is going to become an earned income stream for Collin’s hope too, so we can use that as a sustaining way to fund the work that we do three hundred sixty five days a year also. So, it’s pretty exciting.
Eric: It’s really cool and you know, as you know, the school year started in full, which is kind of where the summer is wrapping up. And now you’re talking about what you do for the rest of the year and this plays right into it.
Alissa: It does, it allows us to have something that we can do before the heavy swimming season comes. I mean, here in Texas you can swim almost all year round, but what we do, is we roll from the summer messaging, which is all about you’re going to water now, you’re at the beach, you’re at the pool, you’re at the lakes and getting in people’s faces about drowning is fast, drowning is silent, drowning is preventable, here’s what you can do. [Inaudible 00:21:47] seventy five thousand of these. Then we move into… we still do that and we still keep that message going, but we move into okay, how do we get this into, for example, into the schools. So, that when they’re in colder times, they can be doing this in the classroom and be preparing to for the next season. It’s a really nice… it’s a nice sort of filler in the time when people are not necessarily thinking about water safety because I’m sure where you’re in Florida, correct? Am I right?
Alissa: Yep. So, you have the same thing that we do here in Texas. I mean, we see drownings, sadly, all year round. I know right now in Texas, we’re at seventy four fatal child drownings this year and last year, we ended the year at seventy five. So, we have to keep this and we’ve had all kinds of water. We’ve had nine bath tubs and eight ponds and lots and lots of backyard pools and community pools and hotel pools. So, we just have to keep this going, so this is a way to do it during that time. And it gives teachers in the classroom simple things that they can do; a ten minute lesson added into a day when you’ve got some down time. So, we’re excited about it, like I can’t wait to see how far we can get this thing to go, to really save lives.
Eric: Yeah and you know, obviously the more schools it’s at, the bigger impact you can have and you know, hopefully teacher is latched on to it as part of the curriculum.
Alissa: And we have a testimonial on the video that’s of a teacher who taught it in San Antonio in her classroom and she does a really good job of explaining the impact that she sees with the kids as she’s teaching it. They’re trying on life jackets and they’re learning. So, we talk to kids about… I want to move into the water guardian thing that I want to talk about.
One of the big things and you’ll see like I’m drinking coffee out of my be a water guardian coffee mug. And we actually have greater goods, which is a local coffee roaster just made the water Guardian coffee. I’m going to send you some by the way. But we’re talking to kids about having an adult water Guardian and we teach them that and that’s something that we keep that message going. And I want to talk about why we’ve chosen, almost ten years ago to use the term water Guardian instead of water watcher. It’s a mindful decision, you’ll see the lots of groups have water watcher tags and that’s great because it’s encouraging people to watch the water when kids are near or around the water, but we chose to use water guardian because we’re trying to say to people, you need to be a water guardian all the time. It’s not just when your kids or your family is around water, because water is always there. so, for example, if you have a backyard pool, just because you’re not by the pool, out by the pool, in the pool, that water is still there, right.
So, the term Water Guardian implies for us, we’re actually trying to just say it, is that you need to train yourself as an adult and train your kids. From the beginning, the kids need to have a water guardian, who is an undistracted adult and adults need to be water guardians. So, that’s all the time, always having good water safety behaviors, whether that’s you’re at the lake or you’re at the backyard pool or the community pool or even when you’re getting ready to give your child a bath. It’s knowing how to be safer around water and doing that. So, it just becomes natural, just like when you put your seatbelt on in the car or you put a… I mountain bike race, so when I put a helmet on my head as soon as I get on that bike, I just do it and that’s what we’re trying to get with water safety. And I feel like we’re getting closer to having that be our training people and again, it’s because we’re talking to kids and we’re talking to adults. So, it’s in essence it’s this… I think I talked about the last time, it’s this culture of water safety and building a better culture of water safety.
So, it’s people are not thinking, oh that’s not something I need to think about, it’s something that we all need to think about because if you ask any parent who’s lost a child to drowning or almost lost a child to a drowning, they would probably tell you that they didn’t think that that was going to happen to them either, but it did. And so in an effort to just build a better, safer culture of water safety, that’s why we’re pushing this water Guardian term. It’s not about just watching the water, it’s about guarding your family, your kids, yourself from the water. I mean, I love the water, we love the water; the other side of my coffee cup says, “Have the best day ever”, right. You know, that’s our thing and we want people to love the water, but there’s things that they can do to be safer. So, I teach kids, when I’m talking to kids, I tell them I’m going to ask you to do this respectfully, but if you’re at the water and your adult is not watching you, if they’re watching their phone or they’re talking to other people and there’s not someone who is being a water Guardian, I’m giving you permission to respectfully ask them to watch you. And it empowers kids too, to call out adults to be safer around water.
So, that’s something that if anyone watching, if any of your kids get a presentation from Alissa, they will probably call you on it if you’re not being a good water Guardian.
Eric: And so, you know it makes me think of the idea for ships for water watchers. Water guardians all the time. And I know a lot of times, we do water watchers in ships, we want fifteen minutes for this one person. So, can you do both?
Alissa: They can still be that, you can be both, I mean, you can be a water guardian all the time. But you can be the appointed water guardian while you’re on your shift, you know. So, it’s the same thing, I mean our water Guardian badge still breaks out of here, you know and you put it around wrist, the same concept. But it’s more about not just having people think about this when they’re at the water.
It’s like, you need to be a water guardian all the time. And yes, when you’re at the pool assign an adult who is the water guardian of the moment, the specific water guardian. But it’s really about keeping this in front of people all the time, we can’t just talk to people when they are around water, we’ll never change the culture. We never will.
Eric: That makes perfect sense. And I all agree with that, a hundred percent.
Alissa: I was happy to see when you know, when Levi’s legacy… I’m sure you’ve seen Nicole Hughes who lost her son Levi. She created immediately after Levi’s drowning in June, she created water Guardian tags as well and I was so happy to see that. I reached out to her and said, I’m glad that you’re using that term too, that’s the term that we use, so let both of us use it and push this. Because I really do feel like it’s a different… It’s just a different mindset or at least it’s a mindset that we’re pushing. So, you’ll see, you’ll see Collin’s hope with everything water [inaudible 00:28:41] guardian; our shirts… you know, my coffee mug says, I’m a water guardian but our car wrap, on the hood says “be a water Guardian”. And so, anyway I’m a challenge everybody to be a water Guardian.
One of the ways that people can do that, is go take our water safety quiz online. I’ll give a little plug for that, the online at collinshope.org/quiz; Simple ten questions, you can’t fail it. You take a question, if you get it wrong it’ll give you a hint and passed you on to the next question, then you can share it on social media and you can see what’s called a water Guardian wall on our website and you can see all the different zip codes that people have taken the quiz. So, we know that we’ve had close to six thousand people taken in at least twenty nine different countries and like a gazillion zip code. So, it’s pretty cool to see it go far and wide, it’s in English and Spanish. So, that’s another way people can be a water Guardian, is to raise their water safety knowledge, increase it.
Eric: I love your quiz. The only thing I don’t like about your quiz is I wish I’d thought of it first.
Alissa: Ah, I know, but we still haven’t talked about the other idea that….
Eric: I know.
Alissa: I promise, we’ll talk about that after this because….
Eric: That has to happen.
Eric: Yeah, I’m excited for that too. Also, so what else do you have going on?
Alissa: Let’s see, we just got through our kids triathlon and we just got through our ten case women like Austin, which Bob [inaudible 00:29:57] if you’re still there and Lori… okay, Lori and Bob, you both need to come do that swim next year. I’m calling you out on it, because we’ve talked about it. And then we also just… Collins’ hope just reached the ten year anniversary last month, so in August of the organization; Collin drowned in June of ‘2008’. So, that was the ten year, we acknowledge the ten year anniversary of his drowning in June. And then in August, we celebrated ten years as an organization, whose sole mission is to raise water safety awareness to prevent drowning.
So, we just had a party at a local ice cream shop, [Nadamoo] and we had about one hundred of our supporters came and got free ice cream on us and from our partners at Nadamoo and just really celebrated the impacts that we’ve made in central Texas and beyond in drowning prevention. We’ve got work to do all year round, we’re part of the Texas drowning prevention alliance and obviously a part of the national drowning prevention alliance. And families [inaudible 00:30:54] to prevent drowning and all these groups; Safe Kids, really just trying to work with whomever we can and to collaborate. That’s why I said, I’m not always competitive because I am cooperative and collaborative. But we’re working you know, during that sort of down time, which is not really a down time, to just keep this message going and work with as many people as we can, as many partners to say, okay moving into the next season, how can work with more partners to get this message out louder?
I mean, we have billboards that are still up all over central Texas, we took out ads on school buses that are the same message, “drowning is fast, silent and preventable”. And down south in San Antonio, the [mistress] and foundation took out… we use similar messaging as they did on their billboard. So, we’re just going to keep on pounding the pavement and focusing on again, getting this curriculum out and as far and wide during this time and planning for the ramp up of you know what we can say in the coming year.
Here in Texas again, we work with Department of Family and Protective Services to analyze fatal drowning data daily. So, we know that we are still seeing so many… almost sixty percent of our fatal child drownings in Texas are in pools. So, we have to keep that pool messaging, but we had nine ponds. What is that about? How do we message around pond safety? Because we need to. Or nine bathtubs? We need to keep that going; so, that’s where we are at this time in the year as we move out of some of the event specific stuff and move into the just refining the message, so that it’s applicable, building our partnerships, stewarding our partnerships and just keep on going. There’s really not a break for us in this drowning prevention world.
Eric: No, I think you’re kind of like we are; you know, we advertise nationally, we have dealers all of the country and we were talking about the coming… you know summer is over, moving into fall. And someone on our team eloquently stated that it’s always summer somewhere. You know, it’s still summer in Florida; right now it’s hot has been Jesus outside right now.
Alissa: We’re so close to the hundred.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, even in December, it’s summer somewhere. So, there’s always you know, people that we can be reaching out to who are still using the pool.
Alissa: And taking vacations. [Crosstalk]. I mean, that’s messaging that we do year round, that says you move into the winter holidays, people go on vacations when you get to spring break. I mean, for us that’s when it really starts when we lost three kids to fatal drownings over spring break this year. So, for us, our messaging is just you know…. you change the message a little bit based on what’s going on and it has to be an applicable message. But we just keep going and you’re right, it is summer somewhere or at someone’s going to water all the time.
Eric: And in Florida, we have a thing probably just like Texas, where as the weather cools down and it finally gets nice out, that’s when people open their windows and their doors and you know, you’re not thinking about the pool because you’re not going in it, but you’ve now allowed access. And you know, we always try to hit that in the fall and winter time also.
Alissa: Right. That’s a good point. I just saw also… I mean, there’s cold water. I just saw very sad tragic story of a family who, I think a father and three kids and the mom survived and it was they were hypothermic. They were in a… I think they were in a kayak, a tandem kayak or must have been two tandem kayaks because I can’t imagine they would have had that many people on one. But that it capsized and the water was cold. I mean, that’s a thing year round; I mean, here in Texas people are on our lakes all year round, it doesn’t matter what the air temperature is and so that’s where our life jacket messaging also happens and our safety… on both.
So, yep, this doesn’t stop, I mean people… I think that’s something we have a hard time communicating with people. I don’t know if you do, but this is not just a summer message; I think that’s the assumption for a lot of people, it’s “oh, you’re a have busy time, it’s from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Did I get that right? Yeah, Memorial Day to Labor Day and for us, it’s not. Same for you, especially in these states that’s sadly are also leading the country in the number of drownings. And fatal and non-fatal, we started doing more work with some of our non-fatal drowning survivor families here and helping get their stories out there because the estimated number is that for every fatal drowning, there’s five non-fatal drownings. And you know, those are stories that they’re all preventable. So, how do we work with those families and get those stories out there also.
Oh, one more thing, I don’t want to forget about this. I don’t want to forget. I mentioned Nicole Hughes and obviously, [Bodhi] and Morgan Miller, they’re doing a lot of work around working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to really ramp up pediatricians talking about water safety during every…. I mean, well child visits for sure, but talking about that because a lot of people their first entry point when they have a baby or before they’re even having a baby, is their doctor and it’s a trusted person. And so, we’re going to support the work that they’re doing on that here in Texas as well. The Texas drowning prevention alliance, that’s been a focus of TXEPA is working with pediatricians and that’s something, that at least from Collins hope, we’re supporting that effort and really reaching out. Collins pediatrician, Dr. Ari Brown is a very… she wrote baby 411 and toddler 411 and she was on our board. She has also agreed to be a partner and getting that message out to have pediatricians… they have to talk about a lot of things, but they are a first entry points of people when they have kids, so they are a conduit that they can we can get to parents early by working through the pediatricians.
So, I’m excited to help do some work around that both here in Austin and central Texas and in Texas as a whole and beyond. Because I think that’s a really valid… you can’t just focus on reaching parents or kids in one place, but you can certainly, pediatricians and for us at schools and daycare centers. I mean, where are the kids, where the parents and let’s work collaboratively to get the message to those places. And obviously, we work year round with people in the pool industry, like yourself that you guys are in people’s backyards and you’re in front of people all the time. So, you know, this is the work that we do. I think it’s interesting for people, I hope people are watching because I don’t know if people really know all the work that drowning prevention organizations do and you know people may have one… organizations may have one of the thing that’s their wheel house or the thing that they do most of the time, but we’re doing a lot. A lot of different things and trying to support each other to have a bigger louder voice there.
Eric: You know, I feel like I bring up this pediatrician’s survey that Kerri Morrison did every time I talk about water safety now, because if pediatricians are in their narrative now, which I think is really cool. And I think her survey came around right at the right time. And it reported that only fifteen percent of parents had been talked about, where pediatricians have talked about water safety with them. Which I had thought would be low but not fifteen percent low.
Alissa: Yeah and I have asked to look at the survey, but yeah I mean, I think it’s… I mean, pediatricians in… I think that they have been working on it, I don’t think that this is a brand new thing, but I think it’s time to ratchet it up. I mean, I know Dr. Brown was my daughter’s pediatrician and we talked about it and I don’t know if that was because she was Collins pediatrician and so that’s something that’s on her radar. But it’s definitely something that I think they’ve been doing work in the pediatricians, but I think now it’s the wow we’re going to ratchet it up and I’m going to thank Nicole Hughes and the Millers for sort of pushing that forward and going with that. And we’ve been talking about how can we support those efforts and really bring them into the equation even more.
I mean, they do have to talk about a lot of things; imagine all…think all the things that [crosstalk]…I talk about the disc, is drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children under five. Then talk about it.
Eric: Right. I mean, we make sure we have car seats, we make sure that they… you know, we’re doing SIDs and they don’t have blankets and pillows and you know [crosstalk]. Everybody’s got that stuff, right. But for some reason, water safety gets left out and I think we’re doing a good job on the doctors’ side of fixing that.
Alissa: Yep, and I think … here’s something I would love too. I listen to a lot of some nonprofit radio shows that are here in Austin on Sunday mornings and I always hear really, really, great ads from the National Ad Council. So, here’s my plea to the National Ad Council… I don’t even know, I’ve even done any research on this. But for them to do a water safety ad, something really, really, good and really, really, powerful. I think it’s time that we take the megaphone and we turn it on on everyone with this water safety message and hit it from all angles. It’s the pediatricians, it’s you know, media, it’s anything that we can. Because it is something that we have to talk about and I don’t know why it hasn’t gotten as much coverage as other things in the past. But now is the time and where there are so many of us; yourself and Collins hope and all the organizations that we work with that are lined up to just be louder and do programs that work, which is why I’m so proud of the water safety with Collin and friends, because it’s a program that works and why wouldn’t you do something that works.
And so, that’s what in the drowning prevention world, we need to keep doing things that work and evaluate what we’re actually doing and see what works. Stop doing the things that are not working or stop doing things that we just do them over and over again and we don’t know if they work. And spend the time to evaluate them and then keep doing them and push those out. So, I think it’s an exciting time for water safety and drowning prevention. At least, I’ve been in this almost ten years now with Collins hope and to see where we were… I know from Collins hope, looking at our materials from ten years ago and then looking at what we have now, there’s an evolution that’s a really beautiful process.
I got to spend all day yesterday talking to people that work for different Y.M.C.A.s across Texas and Oklahoma and share some of our tools with them and talk to them about how we can collaborate better with Y.M.C.A.’s to get this message out. Because we do some of that and we want to do more. And it’s an exciting time for drowning prevention. I don’t know if you feel that in the pool industry, but I really think it… I think it is from our side.
Eric: You know, I’m more in the, I would say pool safety in this [inaudible 00:41:41] in this pool… right yeah, because all we do is fences and barriers and alarms and pool safety stuff. But I agree completely. You know, it’s kind of a… there’s a groundswell happening and I’m glad that we’re surfing it. It seems like a good time to be doing this and I’ve been doing this for over twenty years. And we were swimming upstream salmon style for so long, so it feels nice to kind of, at least be going you know, flat for a while.
Alissa: Right. And for me and for Collins hope and for all the families that we work with, this is about honoring the children that we’ve lost and almost lost through drownings. And so, I want to be… the work that we’re doing is creating a legacy for these kids and for their families and so, it’s that important and I feel like in their honor that we have to keep this and keep it going, keep it loud, keep it in front of people. And it really is, I think Lori is still listening, so it’s for Elise and for Collin and for Connor and for Tristen and for Zach and Joshua. Joshua and Christian, all of the kids; this is why we’re doing this.
Eric: And year round, right. And even within our own industry, I think we kind of back off in the fall and winter time. A friend of ours actually, she was supposed to come on and had reschedule and we were trying to figure out a date and she sent me an email and she said, you know, I know that we’re out of season now, so if you don’t want to have me on, I can come back next summer. And I wrote her back and said, no no I’m good, you can come back whenever, it can be December, I don’t have a season. So, you’re still applicable in the fall.
Alissa: Well and you’re helping to keep that message going all year round. I think that so important. I’m going to make [inaudible 00:43:30]…. I have a T. Shirt press, I’m going to make myself a shirt that says, it’s like always water season or something like that.
Eric: Yeah, I like the “it’s always summer somewhere”, which was pretty good.
Alissa: Yeah, that’s a good one. Can you see the comments? Because I can’t see them.
Eric: I can see some. Yeah, so….
Alissa: Anybody [saying anything interesting]?
Eric: [Bob Pratt] says, he’s going to start using water guardian.
Alissa: Yeah, Bob. I’ll send you a water Guardian hat and a mug and some coffee Bob.
Eric: Actually it’s all [Bob Pratt]. Bob Pratt also says that we are getting momentum and collaboration is key and he loves us both, [inaudible 00:44:01], Andy and everybody. And he’s just encouraging everybody.
Alissa: [inaudible 00:44:07] Bob, with your stuff that he’s doing with the Great Lakes surf rescue project. I see they’re doing tons of great work with like Michigan and up in that area. And I know they have different challenges than we have here in Texas, but I love to see Bob and his crew do amazing work. So, I think it’s good to give him a shout out, since he is pumping us up here.
Eric: He’s good and they do great stuff. And he’s going to come on this eventually, he is resistant in doing it.
Alissa: Why are you resistant? Why?
Eric: I don’t know, ask him. But I keep asking him, he’s like yeah, yeah, sure one day.
Alissa: Yeah, soon Bob, it’s fun.
Eric: It is, it’s a good time and I don’t bite hard. So, not unless he asks, which is what it is. So, anything else that you want to tell people before we wrap up?
Alissa: Just you know, remember drowning is fast, drowning is silent, and drowning is preventable. Go take our quiz, check out the water safety with Collin and friends curriculum on our website; we’ve got tons of resources. Just help us keep this message going, I really do think that we can model good water safety behavior in our own lives and encourage others to do so. Talk about it. I mean, I think that’s raising this conversation, amplifying the conversation is huge. But thank you Eric for letting me come on again and do my little show and tell. I appreciate what you’re doing and just keep doing it.
Eric: Thank you and we’ll talk about our idea that’s going to happen.
Alissa: Yes, yes.
Eric: …it’s the best day ever.
Alissa: Yes. Alright.
Eric: Thank you Alissa. Thank you so, I really, really, appreciate it.
Alissa: Have a great weekend.
Eric: Everybody who watches, you guys rock. You guys have a fantastic weekend and we will see you on Monday. Later guys.