Sunday, June 23, 2013

Making A Splash in Community Safety

Bobby Hazen of Shirley, Long Island didn't set out to set up a task force. He wasn't even planning on getting wet. But in 2001, in the course of his involvement with Long Island's Saf-T-Swim schools, he had to fill in as a swim instructor. So he jumped in, literally. And he discovered something even more important than a newfound hobby.

Every year, he explains in this article, the phone at the swim school would light up after another tragedy - one of a child drowning in a pool. This spawned the Long Island Drowning Prevention Task Force, which has grown to encompass the involvement of an impressive list of participants and disseminates safety information to families and schools all over the area - on top of their efforts in the pool.

It is difficult if not impossible to gauge the success of Bobby Hazen's efforts in numbers. How can you count how many children have not drowned because of the efforts of his community? Instead we can think about all the people he has reached out to, all the parents he has informed and influenced, all the children he has helped understand there are things to be aware of before they go jumping off the deep end. And consider that maybe, in all those families, every single child has been able to go over to mom or dad after their swim to dry off and maybe get a giggle and a hug.

These happy endings to a day in the pool are his understated legacy.