A safe summer starts with proper water safety for children

  • Written by ARA
Kids and water play go together like peanut butter and jelly. Sadly, what is a fun, healthy activity for most children, too often brings tragedy and heartbreak for others. Each year, more than 3,400 people drown in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14. Drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14.

For every child who dies from drowning, another four are injured in nonfatal drownings, CDC statistics show. Many of the children who survive will face lifetimes of long-term disabilities. Typically, when a child drowns, the parent or caregiver has been away from the child for less than five minutes according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

"The single most effective thing parents can do to protect their children from drowning is to ensure they know how to swim," says Debbie Hesse, executive director of the USA Swimming Foundation. "Learning how to swim is not only a fun way to encourage exercise, it can save a child’s life."

Unfortunately, lack of swimming knowledge is common among American children, especially among minority populations. In fact, seven out of every 10 African-American and Hispanic children cannot swim, according to a national research study by USA Swimming and the University of Memphis. African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers, the CDC reports.

To help combat these statistics, the USA Swimming Foundation has granted more than $1.5 million dollars to communities across the nation to help provide free or discounted lessons so that all children will have the opportunity to learn to swim.

This June, the Foundation will launch its annual cross-country water safety tour, Make a Splash with Cullen Jones, presented by ConocoPhillips. The tour aims to raise awareness about the importance of learning to swim. The USA Swimming Foundation offers parents five tips for keeping children safe in and around water this summer:

1. Teach children to swim. It’s the best way to be safer in the water. Research shows that parents are the most influential factors in whether or not a child learns to swim. Only 13 percent of children from non-swimming households will ever learn to swim, according to national research conducted by the University of Memphis for USA Swimming.

2. Make sure a responsible adult is watching the water at all times. Drowning can be completely silent, and most child drownings occur when the victim has been out of sight for less than five minutes.

3. Remind kids to always obey the rules of the pool, not to jump on or dunk other swimmers, and not to jump or dive unless they know how deep the water is.

4. Require kids to always swim with a buddy.

5. Remember, you don’t have to be at a pool to drown. Lakes, rivers, large puddles and any other bodies of water also require caution. Make sure your child knows how to swim, whether or not they’ll be around a pool this summer.

"Swimming is unique in that there is a lifesaving element to it - it can be fun and competitive, but learning to swim can also save a life," Hesse says. "It’s a skill every child needs, and one that every child should have regardless of their social or economic situation."

As part of its Make a Splash water safety initiative, the USA Swimming Foundation, in partnership with ConocoPhillips, is providing resources for families, including swimming lessons that are low cost or even free, depending on a family’s economic need. To find local learn-to-swim groups in your community, visit

Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) – A New Way To Make Learning Fun

  • Written by provided by Silver Lining equine facilitation

Using horses to help people learn life skills is the focus of a relatively new approach called equine assisted learning (EAL).

It’s being used in a broad spectrum of settings, including corporations, college campuses, hospitals and medical training facilities and with veterans.

In schools across the country EAL is being used to help students gain better understanding both in academics and in other areas, such as communication skills, problem solving, teambuilding, conflict resolution and anti-bullying programs.

EAL is an experiential learning approach, meaning students are involved in activities as they learn.

For many students, learning while doing encourages both deeper understanding and better retention of the material they are studying.

After participating in each activity they discuss what they learned as well as any behavior patterns which helped or hindered their learning style.

New insights into both the material being learned and what helps them to learn are common.

The focus of EAL sessions is determined by the educational or competency goals of the clients or students involved.

In this process the horse becomes a teacher in additional to the horse specialist and licensed mental health professional who attend each session.

EAL programs use the horses to create challenges for the students and to teach skills such as understanding nonverbal communication, problem solving and creativity.

EAL can be very focused on specific learning (e.g., enhancing science or reading strategies) or broadened to include teaching students to examine overall learning patterns and seek what works best for each individual.


Students attending our summer camp sessions will practice and improve on school acquired skills in the areas of reading, writing, math and science.


The horses will serve as the subject matter and medium for enrichment learning.

Students will have the opportunity to apply the skills they have learned in a setting that helps them truly see the "why" of their classroom learning!

Remembering that all kids are not created equal

  • Written by Harold Luhn
We adults tend to view "gifting" as a necessary part of our children’s birthdays. In fact, the children seem to expect that as well.

Sarah Hallman-Luhn shows the gifts her friends brought to her birthday party for the cat shelter on Whidbey Island.
So, it is with a certain surprise when we find a girl or boy who doesn’t fit that mold. That’s the way it is with Sarah Hallman-Luhn, a girl from Woodinville and a third grader at a local Bothell elementary school.

Several weeks ago, before Sarah was to turn 9 years old, she approached her mom about buying "$100" worth of toys for homeless cats at W.A.I.F (Whidbey Animals Improvement Foundation). Sarah has always had a passion for animals, be they horses or dogs, but especially for cats. She belongs to Paws N Claws 4H cat club, has two cats at home and has sponsored several more at the WAIF shelter on Whidbey Island.

After her mom figured the expense of a birthday party, gifts and now such a large request for homeless cats, she told Sarah: "No."

Sarah said she knew that WAIF was getting low on toys and what they had "… were getting yucky and weird."

So later she went back and asked her mother what she could do to supply toys to those homeless cats.

The two of them put their heads together and came up with a nifty idea: Instead of asking for presents for herself, she would ask her birthday party guests to bring presents for the kittens and cats at WAIF.

She knew that meant foregoing gifts for her, but said: "That would be okay."

Sarah invited 13 friends from her third grade class. They did all the usual things you do at a party for a 9 year old but in addition, they showered Sarah with an estimated $200 worth of cat toys, cat food and cat litter, even a cat carrier. She collected $51 in checks for WAIF. And what did Sarah buy? She took the jar of nickels, dimes and quarters that she’d been saving, put them in a plastic bag and took them with her to WAIF to sponsor another cat.

Sarah, now age 9, was in her element as she presented her gifts and visited the homeless cats on Saturday, May 28.

She knew each by name as she spends a few minutes almost every day on the WAIF web site checking to see if the cats will soon find a home.

She cares for others, both people and animals. Yes, she’s not your typical 9 year old. Someone once said, "Others before self."

And Sarah practices that.