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Parents Who Lost Son To Drowning Helping Teach Other Kids Pool Safety

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago have teamed up with a national foundation to teach water safety to under-served children.

The program is a partnership with Connecticut-based ZAC Foundation, an organization Karen and Brian Cohn started after the death of their 6-year-old son Zachary, who became trapped underwater when his arm got stuck in a pool drain.

"He was a really good swimmer, and we thought, as parents, we did what we needed to do to teach our children to swim, but actually there was a lot that we did not know about," Karen Cohn said.

The foundation was helping host a week-long camp at the Louis L. Valentine Club, at 3400 S. Emerald Av., in the Bridgeport neighborhood. At least 100 kids will be learning things like never approaching any type of water without an adult present, and to keep away from pool drains while swimming underwater.

"It's absolutely vital … as a skill, as a life skill, and therefore it's a perfect match with us, and we couldn't be happier to be partnering with the Zac Foundation," Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago CEO James Keane said.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S. It is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4, and the second leading cause in children 1-14.

"In the general population, drowning accidents are the leading cause of death; but among minority populations, it's much much higher," Keane said. "In communities of need in our city, those children have less access to pools, and to the kind of teaching and skills."

The ZAC Foundation was providing curriculum for classroom training, and hands-on training in the pool. Each year they sponsor a different club location, and hold a week-long camp.

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