The Rotary Club of Fort Myers South is working to solve a deadly problem that affects more children in Florida than in any other state. Club members are bringing the Josh the Otter Water Safety and Literacy Project to local kindergarten students in an effort to educate children with a simple message: Stay away from water unless accompanied by an adult and always swim with a buddy.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children ages 1 through 4 in the United States. With pools, beaches and year-round swimming weather, Florida led the nation in child drownings during 2017. The program aims to incorporate its lifesaving message into every educational curriculum in the United States. Rotarians will distribute and read “Josh the Baby Otter” books to children to help them understand the importance of water safety. The book comes with a CD that includes a song called “Learn to Float,” along with a pledge about water safety and a coloring book.
Parents Blake and Kathy Collingsworth created the program in honor of their 2-year-old son, Joshua, who died in June 2008 after falling into the family pool. The couple felt compelled to help reduce the dramatic numbers of death by drowning that occur around the world. The book “Josh the Baby Otter,” written by Blake, has been translated into 12 languages and distributed to over 1 million children.
The presentations will take place at the following times and locations:
- Tuesday, July 31 from 9:50-10:50 a.m. at Lockmiller Child Development Center on 13311 FSW Lane in Fort Myers
- Thursday, Aug. 2 from 9:50-10:50 a.m. at the P.A. Geraci Child Development Center on 3713 Canal Street in Fort Myers
For more information about the Josh the Otter Water Safety and Literacy Project, visit their website at https://joshtheotter.org.