By Sharon Aron Baron
Representative Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs, and Representative Jim Mooney, R-Islamorada, have filed HB 1119, known as Water Safety and Swimming Certification for K-12 Students.
Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1–4 in Florida, and the State of Florida also has the highest drowning rate among children in the nation.
This legislation will promote swimming and water safety lessons to keep children safe. This Bill asks parents of children entering any public or private school system to confirm whether their child has had swimming lessons, especially children entering kindergarten.
This legislation is not a mandate but will allow school authorities to identify students who may not know how to swim and provide opportunities for free or low-cost programs for families interested in their children’s learning.
“It is an honor to be the prime co-sponsor of HB 1119. This bill is the first step in saving the lives of children in the state of Florida,” said Representative Mooney. In the Senate, Senator Laurie Berman, D-Boynton Beach, filed companion bill SB 358.
“This bill is named after Edna Mae McGovern, a young constituent in Coral Springs who lost her life to a preventable tragedy.
On August 3, 2009, Cassie McGovern, then the mother of three girls, ages 10, 3, and 19 months, had spent the day in their backyard pool in Coral Springs with her kids. After pool time ended, McGovern put Edna — or “Em” down for a supervised nap and went grocery shopping.
Upon arriving home, she placed the toddler in a chair in the family room, on the other side of a counter that separated the room from the kitchen. McGovern, who had been unloading groceries, stepped away to chat with her husband in another room. She was only gone a minute.
When she returned, Em was gone. McGovern searched inside the house, then stepped outside to check the side yard. She tragically found the blue-eyed blond floating face-up in the pool.
Em died eight days later, on August 11.
Since 2009, the family has been advocating for water safety lessons for all children to prevent another tragedy from happening again,” said Representative Daley.
“No parent should ever have to lose a child. Florida is home to an abundant amount of bodies of freshwater and saltwater. We need to do everything we can to ensure all of our residents, especially the youngest, know the basics of swimming and water safety,” he said.
Parents Shannon and Cassie said, “We made a promise to our beautiful daughter, Edna Mae, as we held her for the last time – we would not stop raising the awareness so desperately needed until we eradicate drownings. “Losing our babies to a preventable tragedy should not continue to happen.”
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