CONTACT: Meghan Bell
Stew Leonard's


Follow the D.U.C.K. to Water Safety

NORWALK, Conn., May 2, 2016 - Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer. Every year at this time, Stew Leonard III Children's Charities hears news of the unthinkable: fatal drowning incidents throughout the Tri-State area, particularly for young children under the age of 4. Before families throughout Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey hit the beaches, pools, and lakes for warm-weather fun, Stew Leonard III Children's Charities and their mascot, Stewie the Duck, hope that families make water safety a priority this summer by following four simple rules.

"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!"

"My wife Kim and I founded Stew Leonard III Children's Charities in 1990 after we lost our 21 month old son, Stewie, in a drowning accident," said Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO of farm fresh food grocer Stew Leonard's. "May is Water Safety Awareness Month and this is a great time of year to remind parents that drowning is preventable. Our goal is that no other family experiences a loss due to drowning like our family did. "

Drowning statistics* are breathtaking:
  • 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, 9 out of 10 drowning deaths happen when a caregiver is supervising but not paying attention.
  • An average of ten people die from unintentional drowning in the United States every day.
  • Children who take swimming lessons are 88% less likely to not drown than children who do not.

Stew Leonard III Children's Charities mascot, Stewie the Duck, recommends four steps to help keep children safer around the water by "following the D.U.C.K." to safety:
  • Don't Jump In Til You Learn to Swim! Teach children to always ask for permission before going into the water and sign them up for swimming lessons. It will take 2-3 years of swim lessons for the average young child to be safer around the water. Children can be considered to be "swimmers" when they can swim 300 yards of nonstop freestyle swimming.
  • Use Your Life Vest! "Swimmies" and "noodles" do not save lives and parents can let their guards down if their non-swimming child is using them. Look for a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket and make sure it fits the child; check the label for weight limits.
  • CPR is a crucial life skill, especially for parents and caregivers. Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
  • Keep an eye on your kids near the water at all times. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown, and 60 seconds for an adult. Designate an adult to be the official "water watcher" when children are playing in or near the water.

To help spread their water safety message and encourage a water safety dialogue in young families, the Leonards have also penned Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim, a fun, instructional storybook follows a young duck named Stewie as he learns water safety lessons. A free Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim ibook app was introduced in April 2012 for iTunes and it was made available on Amazon Kindle HD and on Google Play in 2013. The app has been downloaded more than 55,000 times by users in ten countries, including the USA, Australia, Canada, the UK, and China. The book is also available through,, and at Stew Leonard's grocery stores in New York and Connecticut.

*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 available on iTunes, Amazon Kindle HD and Google Play. For more information, please visit
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