May is Water Safety Awareness Month:

Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation Shares Tips for A Safe, Fun Summer

Norwalk, CT (May 1, 2018) – As backyard pools open for the summer and families make their first of the season visit to local beaches, Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation wants to remind parents and caregivers to remain alert when watching children around the water.  Through the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation, the Leonard family continues to honor the passing of their toddler son in a drowning accident more than 25 years ago; Stew Leonard Jr., President and CEO of Stew Leonard’s, and his wife Kim have pledged to help prevent this tragedy from occurring to other families.

“May is Water Safety Awareness month and we use this time of year to remind parents that drowning is preventable.  And yet, drowning is still the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children,” says Kim Leonard, co-founder of Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation.  “Our family hopes that our foundation’s message will make this a safe and enjoyable summer for all.”

Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation’s Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim book has been used to support drowning prevention and water safety programs by fire departments, children’s hospitals, and police stations throughout the nation, especially in parts of our country where swimming pools never close for the winter.  For example, in Rialto, California, the Rialto Fire Department forged a drowning prevention partnership in 2007 with Rialto Unified School District; the fire department visits first grade classrooms throughout 19 elementary schools to discuss water safety. An average of 20,000 first graders are exposed to Stewie the Duck’s message of “don’t jump in ‘til you learn to swim” every May and the program’s success has been remarkable.  “Since we began, a decade ago, no child going through this program has drowned,” notes Matt Payne, the Rialto firefighter paramedic who spearheads the drowning prevention program.

To start a discussion about water safety within your own community or family, the Leonards suggest reading, singing, and playing with children, using Stewie the Duck’s unique books and games:

READ Stewie the Duck

To help spread their water safety message and encourage a water safety dialogue in young families, the Leonards 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 is also available on iTunes, Amazon Kindle HD and on Google Play.  The app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by users in ten countries, including the USA, Australia, Canada, the UK, and China.  The book is available through Amazon.com, StewsGifts.com, and at Stew Leonard’s grocery stores in New York and Connecticut. 

SING Don't Jump In Til You Learn to Swim

In the summer of 2017, the Leonards released a new board book called Swim Time with Stewie the Duck, geared towards children under the age of three.  Using bright, bold colors and easy to understand language, Stewie guides children through his three water safety rules, ending with his signature Don't Jump In Til You Learn to Swim song, set to the tune of the classic Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  The board book is available for purchase at all Stew Leonard’s locations and online at www.StewLeonardsGifts.com for $5.99.  All proceeds benefit Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities. 

PLAY Super Stewie

Children ages 5 and under now can learn the basics of water safety and make a splash with an educational and interactive game as they and parents gear up for the summer season. Super Stewie Safety Toss is timed game that features three rounds of fun - with quacking ducks, bouncing beach balls, and blowing whistles - and positively reinforces Stewie the Duck's water safety message of never being by a pool, lake, ocean or river without first strapping on a life vest.   At the end of the game, the child, with the help of a grownup, can take a photo of his or herself and paste it onto a dancing duck to celebrate being safe around the water.  For every download, Stew Leonard III Children’s Charity will provide one free swim lesson.  Super Stewie Safety Toss mobile game is now available on Google Play, Amazon Kindle HD, and Apple.

LEARN and SHARE Water Safety Facts, Courtesy of American Red Cross

For parents and caregivers, the Foundation also encourages parents and caregivers to educate themselves and others about water safety:

·         As part of a national campaign to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent, the Red Cross released national survey data that shows that most children and teens cannot perform basic swimming safety skills.

·         Nearly all parents (94%) expect that their children will engage in some sort of water activity.  However, nearly 61% of these parents report that their child cannot demonstrate all five basic skills that could save their lives in the water.  Of these, 65% are parents of children (ages 4-12) and 51 percent are parents of teens (ages 13-17).

·         The critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to, in this order: step or jump into the water over your head; return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute; turn around in a full circle and find an exit; swim 25 yards to the exit; and exit from the water.  If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

·         Every day, an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning – and 1 in 5 are children 14 or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

·         Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and fifth for people of all ages

·         For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries

For additional information on Stewie the Duck products, Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities and Stew Leonard’s group of farm fresh food stores, please contact:

Meghan Bell / Mbell@stewleonards.com / 203.750.6107

Follow Stewie the Duck on Facebook.com/StewLeonardIIIChildrensCharities, Twitter.com/StewieTheDuck, and Instagram.com/StewieTheDuck

About Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation

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 and a mobile game and free water safety app available on iTunes, Amazon Kindle HD and Google Play.  For more information, please visit www.stewietheduck.org.

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Doreen Miner