As families take to the water this summer season, the sad truth remains that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause for children 5-14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, drowning can be prevented if the proper precautions are taken, including partaking in water safety classes.

That is why The ZAC Foundation is providing a series of grants to the Red Cross Centennial Campaign for its Learn-to-Swim program, as well as CPR and lifeguard training. The 2017 partnership will focus on the Boys & Girls Clubs in these three cities – Chicago, San Antonio, Texas, and Bay County, Fla. – all of which have higher-than-average drowning rates.

These locations will also benefit from a swimming safety program by The ZAC Foundation, called ZAC Camps, which brings weeklong lessons about water safety and drowning prevention to Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. Children who complete ZAC Camp will be provided unlimited Red Cross Learn-to-Swim lessons through the partnership until they earn their swimming certification.

“Our partnership with the American Red Cross will provide invaluable classes and lifeguard training to reach our mutual goal of helping to end drownings,” said Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation. “Learning to swim is an essential life skill, and through classes and education, we can empower children and their families to be as safe as possible around water.”

In addition to the Learn-to-Swim program, the partnership will extend to families, in the selected communities, the opportunity to learn Pediatric CPR and AED skills as well as how to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies, all at little or no cost. Further, the campaign is also helping to train junior lifeguards and swim instructors from these communities to instill water safety education and local capacity for training for years to come.

“We know that many families understand the importance of swim lessons, but we also want to remind parents that everyone needs to know how to enjoy the water safely and how to respond to a water emergency, including how to perform CPR,” said Connie Harvey, director of the Red Cross Aquatics Centennial Campaign. “The funding from The ZAC Foundation for critical programs that teach the littlest of swimmers to parents and future water safety leaders will help save countless lives.”

The partnership between The ZAC Foundation and the Red Cross first began as a pilot program in Chicago in 2016 and has since provided:

  • more than 1,000 sets of Learn-to-Swim lessons
  • training for 15 water safety instructors, 25 lifeguards and 52 junior lifeguards
  • Water Safety classes for 90 parents and caregivers; and
  • Pediatric CPR/AED courses for 17 parents and caregivers

For more information on how to be safe this summer swimming season, visit Red Cross training and certification lessons can be found here:

Red Cross Aquatic Providers across the country who are part of the Centennial Campaign, and who are providing low-cost and scholarship programs, can be found here: