SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Legislation recently passed both chambers by state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, will ensure that young children are safe in bodies of water through comprehensive water safety education.
“Anyone visiting a neighborhood pool or Chicago’s lakefront can see that cooling off is integral during hot summer months, but few know the risks until it’s too late,” Delgado said. “I partnered with advocates and my colleagues in the Senate to create legislation, so I want to thank them for their continued support and advocacy on this important issue.”
Delgado’s House Bill 2104 requires evidence-based water safety education for students in kindergarten through 6th grade. Schools can use American Red Cross or other certified educational materials to tailor curriculum. Signs of drowning, unsafe water conditions, how to safely avoid drowning, and other critical information are required under the legislation. Water safety education is already part of the curriculum in New Jersey, Louisiana and Florida.
“With water safety instruction, more kids and families will be equipped with the tools to protect themselves and others,” said Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago). “This legislation is an important step toward saving lives and ensuring better water safety education across the state.”
Critical to House Bill 2104’s passage was Dave Benjamin from the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
“Drowning takes more lives of school age children than fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and active shooters combined,” Dave Benjamin, a representative from the organizations said. “We teach kids how to navigate those threats in school and we are proud of Illinois for following the research and taking a step to change the horrifying statistics around drowning.”
A strong advocate behind the legislation was John Kocher, whose child died from drowning.
“Water safety education in the schools will be a driving force for a much needed awareness,” Kocher said. “I wish this was in the school curriculum when our son Matthew was in elementary school. As the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project always says ‘Knowledge is power’.”
For more information about the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, email firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-903-0166.