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Swim Possible teaching water safety to kids living with autism

Experts host water safety event for children with autism
Experts host water safety event for children with autism 01:56

MINNEAPOLIS — Experts are hosting a water safety event on Tuesday geared towards children who are on the autism spectrum.

It's a crucial session following the death of 4-year-old Waeys Mohamed, a nonverbal child with autism who went missing on Sunday. Hours of searching ended in tragedy on Monday when his body was found in Minnehaha Creek, just 500 yards from his Hopkins home.

According to the American Red Cross, children with autism are 160 times more likely to experience non-fatal and fatal drowning than their peers

David Greenwood's son Zachary was diagnosed at the age of 2. 

"As a parent, I can't imagine burying my son. I can't imagine the trauma they're going through," Greenwood said.

Greenwood said getting his son into swimming lessons was crucial.  

Zachary Greenwood David Greenwood

"It's given us a lot of ease and comfort knowing that we've managed to get him equipped with the swimming skill set to survive," he said.

For the last eight years, his son has worked with Tammy Ebert's team at Swim Possible.

"We're turning it into a positive thing for them," Ebert said. "We have to get them into some type of swim lesson that they can formally learn how to swim and how to not fear the water but respect the water."

Ebert recommends the following:

  • Having a life jacket on hand 
  • Teaching your child to ask before getting into the water 
  • Go into the water feet first
  • Have an emergency plan in place 

"If I save one life through this program, then I've accomplished my mission," Ebert said.

That free virtual session begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Email to register and get the Zoom link.

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