To continue the remarkable legacy of 6-year-old Zachary Archer Cohn who drowned in a drain entrapment in 2007, Connecticut-based water safety organization The ZAC Foundation teamed up this past week with the East Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club to bring the Foundation's award-winning ZAC Camp to more than 100 local youth through its grant program.
The East Los Angeles ZAC Camp is part of a national two-year-old partnership initiative undertaken by The ZAC Foundation, founded by Zachary's parents Karen and Brian Cohn, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America to bring lifesaving water-safety skills to thousands of Club members and their families across the country, particularly within minority communities where need is greatest. The East Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club was selected through a rigorous application process and chosen based on its commitment to advancing water safety locally.
"Last year we saw Zachary's legacy live on in each and every Boys & Girls Club member who went through ZAC Camp," said Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation. "We are excited to expand our message to East Los Angeles to educate a new batch of campers and their families at East Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club."
"We are extremely grateful to The ZAC Foundation for selecting our club to participate in this very important program," added Anna Araujo, Chief Professional Officer for the East L.A. Boys & Girls Club. "Along with soccer, swimming is our most popular activity with our kids and learning the importance of water safety at a level that resonates with their age group, and then encouraging them to share that information with their families, is incredibly valuable to our community."
The ZAC Camp program combines in-pool swimming lessons, safety classes with First Responders, and classroom curriculum based on tenets of water safety taught in a children's book co-authored by Zachary's parents ÔÇô The Polar Bear Who Couldn't, Wouldn't Swim ÔÇô which as of this week is now available in Spanish. By week's end campers are equipped with critical tools to ensure safe swimming, including: fundamental stroke training, emergency preparedness and response, and basic lifesaving techniques. The Foundation also encourages discussion after camp at home by sending each child home with "homework." Assignments are intended to initiate dialogue amongst parents and siblings that are not attending our camp and to share critical safety tips.
The 2014 East Los Angeles ZAC Camp hosted campers this past week at the club, concluding with a special awards ceremony poolside on Thursday, July 10th, with special guests Oscar Delgado, Neighborhood & Government Affairs Manager for the L.A. Dodgers and a former champion collegiate diver; and John Naber, 4-time Gold Medalist in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Naber thrilled camp participants by producing one of his Gold Medals, allowing each child to hold and observe it up close, while telling them that with the swimming skills they now possessed thanks to ZAC Camp, they were as well-positioned as he was at their age to go on to excel at swimming, quite possibly at the 2028 Summer Olympics!
More information on The ZAC Foundation, as well as water safety tips and resources, can be found on their website at www.thezacfoundation.com.