NORWALK, Conn., June 5, 2013 - Stew Leonard III Children's Charities is the proud recipient of the National Water Safety Congress' (NWSC) Regional Award for their for their outstanding efforts promoting water safety throughout a multi-state area. The foundation, which was started in 1990 in memory of Stew Leonard III, the 21 month old son of Kim and Stew Leonard Jr. who died in a drowning accident, has raised more than $2 million for water safety awareness and education, including swimming lesson scholarships and lifeguard training.

The award was presented earlier this spring in San Antonio, Texas, where the NWSC honors individuals and organizations that made remarkable contributions to water safety during the previous year. Stew Leonard III Children's Charities was one of six winners to receive the Regional Award.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-14 years of age. Most drownings happen in residential pools, and 9 out of 10 drowning deaths happen when a caregiver is supervising but not paying attention.* However, drowning is preventable. Statistics show that children who take swimming lessons are 88% less likely to not drown than children who do not. In all of their water safety awareness materials, Stew Leonard III Children's Charities recommends reviewing the ABC's of Water Safety with children, parents, and caretakers:
  • Adult Supervision: Adults should have eye-to-eye contact with kids at all times.
  • Barriers: While there is no substitute for adult supervision, fences and locking gates can go a long way in keeping kids out of the swimming pool.
  • Classes: Not only should children take swimming lessons, adults should be trained in CPR in case the unthinkable should happen.
To help spread the water safety message, Stew Leonard III Children's Charities has supported more than 10,000 swim lessons per year and read their book, Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim, to more than 75,000 children over the past 11 years. Stewie the Duck's water safety message has also spread around the country and now internationally as well thanks to the generosity of the foundation's sponsors, donors, and volunteers:

How do you say, “Don't jump in 'til you learn to swim” in Chinese...?
The free Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim ibook app, which was introduced in April 2012, has been downloaded more than 20,000 times by iPhone and iPad users in ten countries, including the USA, Australia, Canada, the UK, and China.

Making a SPLASH for Safety!
The Foundation has supported children throughout Connecticut and New York, including those at eight local YMCAs and through various aquatics programs at organizations like the American Red Cross, with swim scholarships. The children have either been granted free swimming lessons or given swim lessons for under $10 for a month's worth of lessons.

13,000 New Swimmers in Yonkers, N.Y.!
In December 2012, the Yonkers Family YMCA presented Stew and Kim Leonard with the Social Responsibility Award for their water safety efforts in their riverfront community. Stew Leonard III Children's Charities has provided grant money to the Yonkers Family Y for the past 10 years, helping their aquatics staff to teach more than 13,000 children to swim and supporting the certification of 300 young adult life guards.

Stewie the Duck's Message is on FIRE!
The firefighters involved in the Rialto Fire Department's drowning prevention program have read Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim to more than 12,000 children across 19 schools in Bernardino County, California. They also report that first graders in the region like to check the book out from the local library to read it to their younger brothers and sisters! Additional fire departments across the country, including those in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania, have made Stewie the Duck the cornerstone of their drowning prevention programs.

*Source: NY State Department of Health (2007), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safe Kids U.S.A.

About Stew Leonard III Children's Charities
On January 1, 1989, a 21-month old toddler lost his life in a drowning accident. This sparked his parents to pledge that they would do everything in their power to prevent this tragedy from striking other families, since drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five. In 1990, that toddler's parents, Kim and Stew Leonard, founded the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation in memory of their son. Since this time, the Foundation has raised more than $2 million dollars to go towards water safety awareness and education, including providing swim scholarships and lifeguard training, along with writing and publishing two children's books on water safety as well as a free water safety app on iTunes. For more information, please visit
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