ZAC Foundation co-founder talks water safety

An article in Friday’s print edition of Greenwich Time reported on this week’s ZAC Camp, a water-safety program, at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich.

After Thursday’s closing ceremony for the camp, Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation, which partnered with the Boys & Girl Club to organize the camp, spoke with Greenwich Time about the importance of water-safety education.

Here are some of her comments from the interview:

“Everything that we do, we do in Zachary’s memory. I feel like we’re honoring Zach by seeing the kids and how happy they are in the camps and their smiles.

“They get so excited to learn the lessons, and they’re all so excited to tell me about the ABCs and Ds of water safety.

“The most important thing is Zachary was 6 when he passed away, and he was a really good swimmer. And we thought we did everything we were supposed to do to protect him, but we had no idea there were these dangers lurking in our backyard pool.

“It is so important that we have the opportunity to teach these kids what we didn’t know. Hopefully, they’re going to go home, and they’re going to talk to their siblings and parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents and share the book with them, so they can learn to be safe around water, too. [Every ZAC Camp participated received a copy of Karen and Brian Cohn’s book “The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim.”

“This is our fourth year here [at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich], and they have helped us to evolve the camp into what it is. They spend a lot of time teaching the kids in the classroom and in the pool area. The first responders are also such a big part of the camps here. They sent several people from their respective departments each day to help teach the kids about water safety, but also to teach them general safety and for the kids to climb on their trucks and in their cars. It was great.

“The other really great thing is we here also host the Stamford Boys & Girls Club. They don’t have a pool. Every year, as long as they have the same spring break, they come here and we’ve been teaching them as well. Many of those children don’t know how to swim.

“Many of them were afraid on Monday, but then on Thursday they’re in and doing some of the things that we’re trying to teach them – floating on their backs, swimming to the side of the pool, blowing bubbles. In order for them to become really proficient swimmers, they’re going to need more lessons, but at least they’re getting the basics.

“It’s so important to make sure people are aware and that parents are thinking about as it starts to get warmer outside. A lot of the kids were telling me that they know how to swim, but it’s been a long time since they’ve been in the pool, and so they were happy to get in and swim.

“It’s important that we reach them when they’re young, so they start hearing about it. Hopefully, they’re going to take away those ABCs and Ds and they remember, especially since we’re giving them a book.”

Paul Schott