According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-14. At least 18 children ages ten and under have died via drowning in Oregon from 2006-2017*. Between 2014-2017, at least 106 people drowned in state water bodies and 35 of those people were children ages eighteen and under. Seven of those children died in the Eugene/Springfield area. These numbers only count people who died between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend and do not include near-drownings or other water-related injuries. The CDC estimates that for every child who drowns, approximately five need emergency room care due to the trauma of non-fatal water submersion.
In addition to all the troubling data that demonstrates our community loses too many people to drowning each summer, we know the problem is even larger. The numbers do not reflect drownings outside the summer months. They also do not reflect water-related trauma or injuries that do not result in death. Thus, while we know drowning is a huge problem, the traumas of water emergencies for our target populations are bigger than the statistics.
*Data will be updated using more recent years, as soon as it becomes available.
Two rivers run through the Eugene/Springfield area, and naturally occur in many family backyards. This is particularly a problem when children have disabilities, do not have swimming clothes, and do not know how to swim. According to the CDC, one in sixty-eight children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); however, rates of ASD are especially high in Oregon. Data shows that fewer than 2000 children were diagnosed with an ASD in 1995, but by 2013, there were over 9000: that means one in nine children attending special education classes have ASD and the numbers are still on the rise.
According to the National Autism Association, "drowning is among the leading causes of death of individuals with autism ... In 2009, 2010, and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering." Additionally, a third of parents who have a child with an ASD “reported a ‘close call’ with a possible drowning.” Children with ASD are more likely to drown than their neurotypically developing siblings and peers.
Research demonstrates that exercise can help people feel some relief in symptoms stemming from bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Exercise may also reduce the likelihood of people with mental illnesses developing chronic illnesses.
Approximately 50% of children in the foster care system have a mental illness, and they are ten times more likely to be sexually abused than children who live with both biological parents. We can provide these children with a safe sport in a safe space with safe and consistent adults as role models.
Literature suggests that developing protective factors (e.g. exercise, stable relationships, sense of belonging) aka "resiliency" can serve as a buffer against pre-existing risk factors, challenging times, and negative psychological ailments. JAAR aims to help children gain protective factors, such that they are mentally resilient both in and out of the pool.
- All employees have gone through the Flip the Switch Training and this will continue to be required for all adults involved with JAAR Program.
- We will provide bus passes and swimming equipment, allowing for people, who would not otherwise have the economic resources, to enjoy a safe water experience.
- We are creating a swim team from participants who enjoyed lessons, which will allow for key demographics of vulnerable children to seize a new, positive opportunity.
- We plan to use appropriate, educational techniques to deal with challenging behaviors when they arise rather than banning a child from the pool. Our staff will be trained to meet the needs of participants.
- It is important to JAAR to work with children’s parents/guardians to ensure they can swim and perform CPR. That allows for children to have a built-in safety net in what is also a socio-economic problem: the parents of children who cannot swim often cannot swim themselves and are thus unable to help their children with water-safety.
- One of JAAR's goals is to give children and families an emotionally safe space by employing a counselor, who will hold open office hours once a week. That will help us to appropriately handle emotional crises that may emerge and allow us to be a useful, factual, trustworthy resource for our families. Currently, we are working closely with the University of Oregon to discuss different ways we may be able to partner with a mental health professional.
We have a two-fold mission fueling our hearts: the burning desire to keep our community safe and the knowledge that swimming builds a resilience everyone deserves.
The colors were carefully selected to represent the mission of our nonprofit. The blue letters signify water safety and education. Each wave is for a different population of children: silver is the color of awareness for children with disabilities, light blue is the color of awareness for children in the foster care system, and lime green is the color of awareness for childhood mental health. We wanted it to be as inclusive as possible, so visually the waves were created to look like land, water, and sky!