Swim safety advocates, elected officials, public policy and health experts, school officials, families, and community leaders today met to develop a goal-oriented, time-bound Drowning Prevention Action Plan to prevent drowning and improve water safety in Chicago before pool and beach season begins.

“Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago is honored to host this water safety discussion and bring together community leaders who are committed to this important cause,” said Mimi LeClair, President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. “Keeping Chicago youth safe is always our top priority, and we appreciate the opportunity to take part in this taskforce to better educate and protect Chicago youth from water related issues.”

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4 in 2017, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control. That same year, there were 111 deaths due to unintentional drowning in Illinois.

“We know that addressing this crisis requires a “whole community” approach that is informed by and reflects the realities specific to individual communities, and that, together, we can make a difference and save lives,” said Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation. “We’re grateful to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago for partnering with us to ensure more families and children in Chicago are safe, comfortable, and capable around water.”

The participating community leaders, who included Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation; Megan Ferraro, Executive Director of The ZAC Foundation;  Adam Bueling,  Assistant Manager of Beaches & Pools for Chicago Park District; Tim Oldenburg, Aquatic Territory Specialist for American Red Cross; Jason Lach, Deputy District Chief for Chicago Fire Department; SgtEduardo Beltran, Chicago Police Department Marine Unit; Hermilo Hinojosa, Vice President of Youth Development at Boys & Girls Club of Chicago; Thomas Smith, Director of Sports Administration at Chicago Public Schools; and Michelle Macy, MD Attending Physician, Emergency Medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, among others – plan to better understand risks associated with drowning, develop an action plan, and determine goals and measures of success unique to Chicago. Learnings from the Taskforce Roundtable could also be used to inform the development of a first-ever national drowning prevention strategy.

The Chicago Drowning Prevention Roundtable was sponsored by The ZAC Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. Chicago’s Drowning Prevention Taskforce intends to hold its next Roundtable later this summer.

CONTACT: The ZAC Foundation/Rubenstein: Emily Gest, egest@rubenstein.com, 212-843-8061
Boys and Girls Club of Chicago/Motion: Lisa Cholewa, lcholewa@agencyinmotion.com; 312-565-0044 ext. 1137