Turning the tides on child drowning
Rebecca Wear Robinson
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by Rebecca Wear Robinson on February 19, 2014

Daytona 500During the Daytona 500 races, starting Sunday, February 23, we have a chance to make drowning a trending topic – if we all work together and leverage social media. A Public Service Announcement (PSA) designed to raise awareness about drowning will air once every hour for 36 hours on the giant screen at the races. If we are all tweeting and sharing during that time period, we have the potential to create a global web talking about drowning, not just among the drowning prevention field, but with a wider public audience.

The Josh Project was offered the opportunity to show a PSA on the big screen during the Daytona 500. Rather than just promote their work, The Josh Project made the decision to create two neutral videos with the main goal of raising awareness with the public that drowning is an issue. A brilliant move, because as I’ve written before, we keep telling people what to do, but we skip the first step, explaining why they need to listen.  While The Josh Project logo appears at the end of the two videos, the content is neutral and intended to jolt the public into awareness, not expressly promote the work of The Josh Project. Both videos are bold and impactful – very powerful.

The first video is 45 seconds. Photos of children in all types of water are depicted. Between each photo is a quote, including, “I was just in the other room.” “I just grabbed the phone for a second.” “I didn’t hear any splashing.” The intent is to show where drowning occurs, and how quickly – to address the misconceptions. It ends “Help us stop this hidden epidemic.”

The second video is 35 seconds. A timer appears between slides, relentlessly ticking away the seconds while facts about the prevalence of drowning are posted, including, “It’s more dangerous then fire.” “More accessible than firearms.” There are photos showing where drowning can occur and ends “Help us stop this hidden epidemic.”

First and foremost, a huge shout out and thanks to Wanda and Tankeeya Butts of The Josh Project for being willing to put their organization second to the bigger goal of making people aware that drowning is even an issue. It shows a selfless dedication to end drowning among all children, not just promote their excellent work. These powerful and impactful videos should also help direct inquiries to all the organizations working on drowning prevention.

Second, a huge thank you to the Daytona 500 for being willing to post such PSAs on their big screen 36 times during the race. An estimated 250,000 people attend the race. 20 million people watch the race on TV. While we don’t know whether the PSA will be shown to the television audience, we do know that a quarter of a million people will know more about drowning than they did prior to the race.

We can reach more, but we need your help. Commit to talking, sharing, tweeting, retweeting about the drowning PSAs at the race. Use the hashtags #stopdrowning and #Daytona500 (or #NASCARBattle and #speedweeks) to help it trend. Monitor social media traffic coming from the race and send direct messages – did you see the drowning video on the big screen? what did you think? The more we retweet and share, the more likely drowning will become a trending topic. Did I mention retweeting? It’s critical to make this happen – it creates trending topic links. And don’t forget – if you do start getting inquiries, use the opportunity to educate! First tell people that drowning is a hidden epidemic, then tell them how to keep themselves and their children safer.

We can do it, if we work together, but it will take all of us. The Josh Project has given us an extraordinary opportunity, let’s grab it!

Here are some suggested Tweets to get you started:
I was just in the other room #stopdrowning #Daytona500
I just grabbed the phone for a second #stopdrowning #Daytona500
It was just a kiddy pool #stopdrowning #Daytona500
I didn’t hear any splashing #stopdrowning #Daytona500
It was just a bucket of water #stopdrowning #Daytona500
Every 60 seconds a child dies of drowning #stopdrowning #Daytona500
Help us stop this hidden epidemic #stopdrowning #Daytona500
It’s more dangerous than fire #stopdrowning #Daytona500
It’s more accessible than firearms #stopdrowning #Daytona500
It’s more lethal than poison #stopdrowning #Daytona500
It’s more common than fatal falls #stopdrowning #Daytona500

Think about scheduling one of these tweets every hour for the 36 hours of the Daytona 500 race.

And of course,
Thank you NASCAR and Daytona 500! #stopdrowning #Daytona500 #NASCARBattle

Here are the videos – don’t forget to include the links in your tweets and posts!

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