NORWALK, Conn. -- Visitors to Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk got an opportunity to learn more about water safety Sunday thanks to the Norwalk Police Department and the Stew Leonard III Children's Charities.
"The goal of this event is to provide outreach on water safety to the community, both on the shoreline as well as at-home pool safety," said Sgt. Terry Blake of the Norwalk Police Department.
In addition to Stew Leonard III Children's Charities, police also partnered with Safe Kids and the Norwalk Parks and Recreation Department to deliver water safety tips at the beach. The police Marine Unit also offered information on boating safety, and kids got to hear a story from Stew Leonard's Stewie the Duck.
"We felt that it was important before Labor Day weekend to push the message out there and spread awareness about one of the more preventable tragedies," Blake said.
"We are big supporters of water safety," said Doreen Miner of Stew Leonard III Children's Charities. The founders of the organization, Stew and Kim Leonard, lost their 21-month-old son in 1989 to a drowning accident. Miner said they made it their mission to promote water safety through swimming lessons, education events and other services. "They are passionate about helping others so a tragedy like that won't happen again."
Stew Leonard III Children's Charities launched an app in 2012 to promote water safety for children. "Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim" includes a story, a memory game, a water safety song and tips for parents. Miner said that since the app was launched, it has been downloaded more than 28,000 times in both the U.S. and in other countries.
"We're a community that's right on the water, and at some point everybody's life is exposed to the water," said Pam Raila, the aquatic director for the Norwalk Parks and Recreation Department. "Kids need to know what to do, even if it's something simple like floating on your back until help arrives."