STEWIE THE DUCK TO TEACH A RECORD-BREAKING 40,000 CHILDREN HOW TO SWIM THIS SUMMER
Water Safety Message Grows Locally, Nationally, and Internationally
NORWALK, Conn., June 30, 2014 - Stew Leonard III Children's Charities will kick off its 24th summer of water safety awareness by teaching 40,000 children in New York and Connecticut to swim. Lessons will be given at eight local YMCAs and through swim scholarships offered at various aquatics programs at organizations like the American Red Cross. The children have either been granted free swimming lessons or given a month's worth of swim lessons for under $10.
"There is a great need in our local communities for low-cost swim lessons," notes Stew Leonard Jr., co-founder of Stew Leonard III Children's Charities. "This will be our best summer yet and my wife Kim and I can't wait to see these 40,000 new, strong swimmers in action!"
Stew Leonard III Children's Charities was founded in 1990 after Kim and Stew Leonard Jr. lost their son in a drowning accident. The mission of the Foundation is to educate families on the importance of water safety awareness and by reinforcing fun, simple water safety rules to children through the teachings of the charity's mascot Stewie the Duck. Since 1990, Stew Leonard III Children's Charities has raised more than $2 million dollars to go towards water safety awareness and education, including swim scholarships and lifeguard training, and have provided more 200,000 swimming lessons to children.
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* and an average of ten people die from unintentional drowning in the United States every day. However, drowning is preventable. Statistics show that children who take swimming lessons are 88% less likely to not drown than children who do not.
Stewie the Duck's water safety message has spread around the country as well as internationally thanks to the generosity of the Foundation's sponsors, donors, and volunteers:
Making an Impact with the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has been a longtime supporter of Stew Leonard III Children's Charities and presented Kim Leonard with Tiffany Circle Award in 2009 for her work with drowning prevention. In April of this year, Stew and Kim Leonard were recognized with the 2014 Community Impact Award by the American Red Cross - Connecticut & Rhode Island Region in acknowledgment of their longstanding commitment to the work of the American Red Cross and the lifesaving work of Stew Leonard III Children's Charities that has made water safety its priority.
The free Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim ibook app, which was introduced in April 2012 for iPhone and iPad, has been downloaded more than 25,000 times by users in ten countries, including the USA, Australia, Canada, the UK, and China. In 2013, it was made available on Kindle and Android.
Don't Jump In 'Til You Learn to Swim!
To help spread the water safety message, Stew Leonard III Children's Charities has read their book, Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim, to more than 110,000 children over the past 12 years. Almost 200,000 copies of the book have been sold and the book is now in its eighth printing.
Stewie Across America
Stewie the Duck's water safety ambassadors - including firefighters, hospital workers, and government employees - are spreading his message from sea to shining sea:
*Source: NY State Department of Health (2007), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safe Kids U.S.A.
- The State of Florida's Department of Health ordered 5,000 Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim books to be distributed to various community organizations throughout in the Sunshine State.
- The firefighters at Rialto Fire Department in Rialto, California sponsor a drowning prevention program and have read Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim to more than 15,000 children across 19 schools in Bernardino County, California.
- Phoenix Children Hospital and Tucson Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona both host yearly water safety events for families and teach Stewie the Duck's "Don't Jump In 'Til You Learn to Swim" song to school age children in their community.
- Columbia University Medical Center in New York City has purchased Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim books for the families of their patients for five consecutive summers.
- Military families at Fort Bragg in North Carolina have received copies of Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim as part of the U.S. Armyâ€™s water safety awareness program.
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 www.stewietheduck.com.