Mar 082011

PHOENIX – It’s the newest prescription doctors are handing out to children – not for medicine, but a prescription for swim lessons!

“They like to have something in their hand to tell them this is important..they’ll remember it,” said Lana Whitehead.

Whitehead is the owner of one of the most well-known swim schools in Arizona: Swim Kids USA. She helped write the actual prescription and the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona is on board as well. Now 50 doctors in the valley will be handing them out.

“I think they’re valuable. There’s been studies that show they are protective. They do not replace barriers or adult supervision, but children who are safe around water tend to have already had some swim lesson exposure,” said Dr. Judith Pendleton.

Think of it as a helpful suggestion – it’s not mandatory. Your insurance does not pay for it, but several swim schools will give discounted lessons.

“Arizona is always ranked first or second as far as drownings, so we definitely need something else..we’re missing something,” said Tracy Fejt of Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

Only one other state in the country has the swim prescription: Florida. That’s where the idea originally started.

Arizona and Florida are among the states with the most pools in the country.

“It’s unavoidable to be around water in Arizona. Everyone has a pool. Grandma and Grandpa have a pool. Friends have a pool,” said Jessica Johnson, a mother.

Johnson put her son in swim lessons at 6 months old. She says she likes the idea of a prescription for parents who may be hesitant about doing it.

“Well, hopefully it will get the idea in parents’ heads that this is something really important and parents tend to listen to doctors, so if doctors can get the idea out there, I think it’s a great thing.”

2725 W. Guadalupe Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85202

Pendleton Pediatrics
Dr. Judith Pendleton
1445 W. Chandler Blvd, Building B
Chandler, AZ 85224

Cardon Children’s Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road
Mesa, AZ 85202
480-412-KIDS (5437)

Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona

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