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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Survival swim instructor petitions Governor Newsom to make lessons "essential"

'One Baby at a Time' Foundation works with American Academy of Pediatrics & CAL FIRE.

SAN DIEGO — Sometimes it just takes one persistent person to create change. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Rancho Santa Fe where the pool is open for business.

Credit: KFMB TV

Certified survival swim instructor Jessica Box remembers how she felt when she heard that COVID-19 was shutting down swim lessons for toddlers.

"My heart just kind of went into my stomach. Drowning is already the number one leading cause of unintentional death in this country for children ages one to four," said Jessica.

She is a single mother of three and founder of the One Baby at a Time Foundation. She took her concern straight to the top; Governor Newsom himself, hoping to prevent toddlers from ending up on the bottom of the pool.

"I had to go back to work and I had to get these kids safe," said Jessica, who sent her petition to Sacramento, imploring the governor to make survival swim lessons from certified instructors "essential".

"It was a very intense 12 days of my life. I was on the phone six to 10 hours some days," said Jessica.  

Credit: KFMB TV

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, more kids are at home and in pools.  Jessica said in Texas and Florida, drowning rates for toddlers more than doubled in the first four weeks of the pandemic.

Credit: KFMB TV

Jessica was in the pool for our story, already helping children learn how to swim.

"He's a very happy, little guy," said Stefanie Parsons, who was holding her 10-month-old son, Sladen. 

The mother said she is relieved someone went to bat for children like her son.

"Just to be able to know he can float and make sure if he did get away from me for a couple of seconds - he would be able to know what to do in the water so I can get there in time," said Stefanie.

 

Credit: KFMB TV

The One Baby at a Time Foundation works with the American Academy of Pediatrics & CAL FIRE to keep every little head above water.

"Amazing - [I'm] so proud of him," said Jessica who helped Sladen become pool safe in just four weeks.

"You never think it's going to happen to you," said Jessica. "Nobody can ever have their eyes on their children every second of the day. If and when that time were to come, if a child can get into this time and training they will be successful. I know that baby has a chance."

Credit: KFMB TV

If you're interested in signing up for swim lessons with the One Baby at a Time Foundation go to www.onebabyatatime.org.