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Drowing Death - A Teachable Moment

Posted Jul 13 2010 3:16pm
A few weeks back we issued a challenge to all black women to take swimming lessons and learn how to swim. Stay tuned for a great article from Denise W. At 29 years old she made it her goal to learn to swim by her 30th birthday. OurHealth reached out to her and she has agreed to share her story with us!

In the meantime, please read this article. This is truly a tragedy but as the article says, even in the midst of this pain, there is something that we can learn.

Black kids are three times more likely to drown than white children. Nearly 70 percent of African-American children and 58 percent of Hispanic children have low or no swim ability compared to 40 percent of Caucasian kids.

Olympic Swimmer Cullen Jones: Drowning Death of Former NFL QB Randall Cunningham's Son a Teachable Moment

By Jeff Mays on Jul 13th 2010 6:05PM
Originally posted on BVblackspin

Olympic Swimmer Cullen Jones: Drowning Death of Former NFL QB Randall Cunningham's Son a Teachable Moment

The sad drowning death of the two-year-old son of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham came while Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones was at a swim meet in Canada.

The first thought that crossed his mind was: "That could have been me." Jones almost drowned at a water park when he was just five.

The second thought was that the Make a Splash initiative, his mission to help minority kids learn to swim was the right thing to do.

"My heart goes out to the Cunningham family. The tragedy that happened seems like a freak accident. You never know, it could happen to anybody," said Jones.



Cunningham, 47, who is now a minister, was away from his Las Vegas home when a woman who was there with several kids found the boy floating in a backyard hot tub that Cunningham used for baptisms. Christian Cunningham would have turned 3 in December. The death has been ruled an accident.

Cunningham, a highly regarded player, was among a wave of black quarterbacks who helped to integrate the position. He played 16 seasons in the NFL.

Although the details of the incident are unclear, Jones said the "freak accident" can serve as a reminder of the importance of learning to swim.




"I hate that the Cunningham family has to go through this. It was a freak accident. But because of who his dad was, this tragedy can be used to help parents look at learning to swim as something important," said Jones.


"You can introduce them to water as infants. There is no age that's too old or too young. It's definitely what we need to do."

USA Swimming
recently released a study conducted by the University of Memphis that found that parental fear was one of the biggest factors keeping black kids from learning how to swim.

Black kids are three times more likely to drown than white children. Nearly 70 percent of African-American children and 58 percent of Hispanic children have low or no swim ability compared to 40 percent of Caucasian kids.




The study also found a potentially deadly overconfidence from black and Latino kids regarding their swimming ability. Of the 40 percent of children who said they knew how to swim in the survey, only 18 percent had taken swim lessons from a professional. About 28 percent of Latino kids surveyed and 26 percent of African Americans say they taught themselves how to swim.

"I try to push these numbers into people faces. I push these numbers because a lot of people don't believe it. They don't know how bad the numbers are. I can look at my own family and see the number of people who can't swim," said Jones.

Parents need to overcome their own fear of the water to benefit their children.

"Its important not to project your own fears onto your kids because this is something that can save their lives. I made a career out of it," said Jones. "After I almost drowned at five my mother did not know how to swim herself but she put me into swim lessons. Instead of thinking that water was like fire, something kids should stay away from, she chose to let me learn."
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