Drowning doesn’t discriminate.
In fact, it is the leading cause of death in children ages one to four, and some parents in the Stark County area are taking no chances with their children’s lives.
In 2010 Kristy Seidel of Dickinson, ND was devastated by a horrific event that took the life of a family member who was just four years old
“My nephew had fallen in the water. We think his inner tube held him in the water upside down, and he ended drowning from that,” said Seidel.
She is now a mother of three children, and all of her kids take rescue swim lessons, including her seven-year-old son Alex, who has autism and has a tendency to wander off.
“I want him(Alex) to be able to rescue himself if I’m not there. . . or if someone else is not there,” said Seidel.
For about three years now, Alex has been taking rescue swim lessons five days a week for ten minutes a day at the West River Community Center in Dickinson.
The lessons are taught by Kayla Dorwart of Big Sky ISR, Self-Rescue Swimming Lessons.
Dorwart has taught Alex how to put his face in the water, swim for three to four seconds, and float on his back until someone can save him, or he can safely get himself out of the water.
“I thought I was going to have a heart attack the first time she put him in the water,” said Seidel.
Dorwart said she can teach any child how to rescue swim, as long as the child is six months old, can sit independently, and roll front to back”.
“What we teach is based on what they(children) show us, so they would learn the same way any other child would learn,” said Dorwart.
On this Monday morning at the pool, Alex was joined by another child.
Three-year-old Kinley Genre of South Heart, ND suffers from Amelia disorder, and she has no arms.
She also suffers from proximal femoral focal deficiency(PFFD).
Her mother, Tommi Genre, has her take rescue swim lessons, so she doesn’t have to be excluded from family activities.
“I want to make sure that when she grows up that she is capable of doing anything and everything,” said Genre.
Kinley and Alex are rockstars in the water according to their parents, and it’s a huge relief to both of them that their children can protect themselves in the water like any other child.
“He’s (Alex) learned to swim. He’s learned to rescue himself,” said Seidel.
Dorwart said kids take the rescue swim lessons for about six weeks, and then they come back for a refresher six months later.