Memories of Mr. Bernklau’s fifth grade class.
How did you feel when you watched any of those videos? Energized? Positive? Happy? Inspired?
JOY! is the common denominator. Feeling joy can be a great motivator. Joy can inspire behavior to change permanently. Why do you think babies smile? Having lived through colic with my first, I’m convinced that those toothless grins, those spontaneous expressions of pure happiness at the mere site of their parent’s face – those smiles are nature’s way of creating devoted parents. Seeing true, uninhibited joy on your child’s face can get you through just about anything.
One child drowns every minute. It’s an utterly depressing fact. Unfortunately many of the programs designed to teach us about drowning prevention are the emotional equivalent of strapping an anchor to our ankle and asking us to run a marathon. Being constantly reminded of duty, disaster and death results in dutifully dismal half-hearted compliance – when we have the energy – otherwise it just keeps rotating to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. If I gave you the choice of children playing in the water or a video of me droning on about all the different ways your child can die, which would you prefer to watch?
Coupling joy with safe compliance to basic rules has a much higher rate of success and permanent behavioral change. We must end childhood drowning by recognizing and incorporating JOY! into our programs, our public service announcements, and our every day interaction with water.
If we want behavior to truly change, we have to address the issue positively and responsibly. It’s my goal with the book Jabari of the Water
– remember the joy while we teach children how to relate to water safely.
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, JOY to you and me!