Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities Supports Y Water Safety Programs

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Family Y swim instructor Sandro Mioli with Hafaday students.

The Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Westport Weston Family Y in support of the Family Y’s water safety programs, including the Hafaday Swim Lesson Program and Splash Week, a learn-to-swim program for children ages 3-12 and their parents, Y members and non-members alike.

“We thank Kim and Stew Leonard for their most generous gift, which will allow us to devote additional resources to our learn-to-swim programs,” says David Cohen, Vice President, Operations for the Family Y. “We’ll now be able to offer comprehensive water safety instruction at Splash Week and our popular Hafaday Summer Swim Lesson Program.  These experiences will include a review of basic swimming safety and exposure to real-life water scenarios, as well as adding a fun few hours of water safety related arts and crafts, plus take-home items like a life jacket and Stewie the Duck book.”

Over the past two decades, the Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities has been nationally recognized for its drowning prevention efforts and increasing education and awareness about children’s water safety. The foundation has helped to raise millions of dollars to support water safety awareness and education, including swimming scholarships, lifeguard training and water safety equipment.

“We are very proud to team up with the Westport Weston Family Y to achieve shared goals of enriching kids’ lives while keeping them safe and offering skills that will stay with them their whole lives,” said Kim and Stew Leonard. The Leonard family resides in Westport.

Since its founding in downtown Westport in 1923, the Family Y has successfully taught many thousands of children how to swim. Each year, approximately 700 area children take lessons in this necessary skill through a variety of water safety programs. The Family Y also offers Red Cross lifeguarding courses throughout the year, as well as private swim lessons, parent-child swim programs and instructional swim classes for adults.

Established 34 years ago, the Hafaday Swim Lesson Program takes place at the Family Y during the summer as well as the winter and spring school holidays. Designed for children ages 4 through 8, Hafaday has a lesson and free-swim period each day, along with arts and crafts, music and gym time.

Splash Week is a learn-to-swim program for children ages 3 through 12 and their parents. The 30-minute instructional classes take place during afternoons when children are out of school.

Since its founding in 1923, the Family Y has taught more than 32,000 kids how to swim.

These and other instructional programs have made the Family Y the community’s largest provider of swim lessons, a vital service for safety and health in a coastal region with beaches, rivers, private clubs and hundreds of private pools. For more information about the Family Y’s instructional swimming and water safety classes and programs, please visit westporty.org or contact Nicole Turechek, Aquatics Director, at 203-226-8981, ext. 128 or nturechek@westporty.org.

About Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities
On January 1, 1989, a 21-month-old toddler lost his life in a drowning accident. This sparked his parents to pledge that they would do everything in their power to prevent this tragedy from striking other families, since drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five. In 1990, that toddler’s parents, Kim and Stew Leonard, founded the Stew Leonard III Water Safety Foundation in memory of their son. Since this time, the Foundation, which is based in Norwalk, Ct., has raised more than $1 million dollars to go toward water safety awareness and education, including providing swim scholarships and lifeguard training, along with writing and publishing two children’s books on water safety: Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim and Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck. For more information, please visit stewietheduck.com or facebook.com/stewleonardIIIChildrensCharities.

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