The Family That Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Ignore Water Safety

The Family That Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Ignore Water Safety

Sometimes triumph rises from tragedy, as is the case for town couple Karen and Brian Cohn, the founders of the ZAC Foundation, who recently released their first water safety book The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim.

The couple lost their six-year-old son, Zac, after he became entrapped by a powerful pump drain in the family’s swimming pool in 2007. While coping with the tragedy, Ms. and Mr. Cohn established the ZAC Foundation, an organization dedicated to water safety advocacy and education that holds swimming camps for children to help ensure that other parents never had to lose a child to drowning.

Expanding their mission, the couple teamed up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America this past spring in a national water safety education partnership that will bring the Foundation’s award-winning water safety programs — ZAC Camps — to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. This is an extension of a very popular program that’s been held in Greenwich for several years and has been credited with increasing awareness of water safety and getting kids to conquer their fears of swimming.

Now, the Cohns have taken their water safety advocacy one step further with a book targeted at children ages five to nine, but helpful to children and parents of all ages, that educates youngsters on the “ABC and Ds” of water safety, which teach the importance of adult supervision, barriers, classes and drain safety.

In an interview with the Post, Ms. Cohn said it was a hallmark of the ZAC Foundation to teach children drain safety, which was one of the reasons she and her husband wrote The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim. Education on drain safety is virtually non-existent and it’s a vital part of water safety, she said. Another motivation for writing the book, she added, was to provide water safety education to those additional children and parents who might not be reached through ZAC Camps.

Even for ZAC Camps participants, however, the book will prove useful as the couple plans to give each camper a copy to take home and share with their parents, Ms. Cohn said. And, using the book’s animal characters as a teaching tool, the camp curriculum has been updated to include water safety education featuring these characters to help young participants become more engaged in the lesson. In fact, Zeke the polar bear, the book’s main character, who has become the ZAC Camps’ mascot, will make an appearance at each camp session, she said.

July 14, 2013