Hannah Plint drowned on October 4, 2007, just shy of her third birthday.
Joshua Collingsworth drowned on June 4, 2008, age 2 1/2.
Stewie Leonard drowned on January 1, 1989, age 21 months.
An estimated 600,000 children drown every year. One child drowns every minute. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 globally. Drowning can happen in under two minutes and in under two inches of water.
All relevant statistics, but sometimes we need to make it real, to look at the face of a child who is no longer alive.
The children listed above are a drop in the bucket of tears parents have shed over children lost to drowning, but are representative of parents who are determined that other parents will not have to share their grief. They have shared their child’s story. Today is National Day of Drowning Prevention, Awareness and Memorial day in Australia. It was initiated by Hannah’s parents as part of their efforts to raise awareness and end drowning. Similar organizations were begun in memory of Joshua and Stewie.
I pause today to remember the children who have drowned and to honor the parents who have funneled their grief into something positive. Jack Kerouac sums up their determination best: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble makers. The round holes in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. The only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward and while some may see them as the crazy ones we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
These parents are changing the world – one day at a time.