Huntington Beach, CA (PRWEB) March 29, 2009
Individuals who have achieved extraordinary success with their efforts to prevent drowning were recognized at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance's (NDPA) National Drowning Prevention Symposium held in Miami, Florida, in February.
Olympian Cullen Jones was the recipient of the group's highest honor, the NDPA Lighthouse Award. Jones has utilized his achievements as a Gold Medalist on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Swim Team to make a difference in the lives of children across the nation. In making the announcement, NDPA President Johnny Johnson said, "Cullen has worked passionately to advocate for swim lessons for minority children, and his efforts will certainly save lives."
Previous NDPA Lighthouse Award winners were Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 2007, and in 2008, Nancy Baker, whose tireless efforts helped to achieve passage of national legislation named in memory of her daughter who drowned through entrapment, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.
Seven NDPA Community Lifesaver Awards were presented. This award was created by the NDPA to honor exceptional work in the advancement of drowning prevention at the community or regional level through education, research, public awareness, legislative changes, or engineering advancements. Selected winners were peer-nominated and selected by the NDPA board of directors based on award criteria.
Carol Achs and Druann Letter of Phoenix, AZ, were recognized for their work in developing the Water Watchers Program, a major educational initiative for children, and for increasing public awareness of water safety. Johnson said the NDPA board recognized that "they turned grief to advocacy and action after the drowning death of Letter's son and Ach's grandson Weston Letter. The Water Watchers program, now part of Phoenix Children's Hospital, is a model water safety program and curriculum designed for primary school students."
Tim Flood, M.D. from the Arizona Department of Health was selected for a Lighthouse Award for "his unrelenting work and personal dedication in facilitating and promoting research and data projects that have advanced drowning prevention efforts across the nation, and particularly in the state of Arizona. Dr. Flood produces a comprehensive yearly report on Arizona drownings that could be used as a model for other states looking to enhance their data collection and reporting systems," Johnson said.
He announced that Carvin DiGiovanni with the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) received an NDPA Community Lifesaver Award "for his dedication to expanding the pool industry's efforts to ensure that people who buy pools are informed about water safety. Carvin has been involved extensively in facilitating standards and pool safety publication development and advocacy, and he provides a bridge between the pool industry & consumers."
Stew Leonard, Jr. from Norwalk, CT, with Stew Leonard III Children's Charities, was chosen for his personal advocacy to prevent drowning after the loss of his son Stew, through financially supporting community drowning prevention efforts and increasing education and awareness about children's water safety. Johnson said the award recognized that, "With the development and promotion of the 'Stewie the Duck' program, the Leonards have channeled their personal tragedy into a campaign that has potentially saved hundreds of children's lives."
Michelle Long with Mesa Fire Department in Arizona was selected "for her dedication in following an academic model to develop, implement and evaluate an effective water safety program. Her approach to education on the public health issue of drowning is an example the judges felt that all other programs could benefit by emulating. Michelle's program has effectively decreased drowning in Maricopa County Arizona, which has had one of the highest per capita drowning rates in the country," according to Johnson.
Nadina Riggsbee was recognized for her personal dedication to legislative advocacy which has resulted in the passage and strengthening of drowning prevention legislation. The award recognition said, "Since the loss of her daughter Samira to drowning and the severe life-long injury to her son JJ from the same drowning incident, Nadina has dedicated her life to efforts to prevent other parents from having to go through the pain of losing a child to drowning." Riggsbee, founder of the Drowning Prevention Foundation, has been credited with the effort that led to passage of the first drowning prevention related legislation in the nation 20 years ago, and is a strong advocate for quality care for people with significant brain injuries.
Lt. Robert E. Ogoreuc, John Schreiner, Robert Stanton, and Lt. Ed Leon, all with the New Jersey State Police, were selected for recognition for the development and implementation of "an 'Open Water Rescue Course' which has been instrumental in saving lives," Johnson said. "This rescue course, a model educational program which teaches first responders how to effectively rescue people who've gotten into trouble in open waters while also keeping the rescuers safe, is being replicated nationwide."
To learn more about the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, visit http://www.NDPA.org or call (951) 659-8600.
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