Judah Brown Project info@judahbrownproject.org

Christi’s Story Changed my Thinking – Lauren Page

Lauren Page with Children

I used to know a sweet little boy named Judah. He was very quiet and observant, shy even, and he would sit in a chair with his blanket and watch the kids play before joining them. I would help watch him in the church nursery on Sunday mornings while his family attended the service. He was so lovable and sweet, and his face would light up like it was Christmas morning when his family would come to pickhim up. Although I only knew him from these mornings at church, I think of him often. Honestly, every time I fill a bathtub, put a bathing suit on a kid, take my kids to swim, and every time we go to the Doctor and see his flyer on the poster board right next to the chair I sit in while waiting for the doctor. Judah reminds me of my daughter, Lou, because she also sits quietly with her blanket, observing the room shyly before she works up the courage to play with others. And then I always think of Judah’s family, and my heart hurts when my brain tries to comprehend even a fraction of the pain or possibility even, of what she has to experience every day.

Judah died September 26, 2016 from accidental drowning. After this happened, his mom wrote a facebook post and blew me completely away with the facts. I have three children, and we have visited the Texas Children’s Pediatrics for annual check-ups 24 times. If you include sick visits, that’s at least 50+ visits with our nurses and Pediatrician over the past 11 years.

Do you know how many times we were told that drowning is the number 1 cause of accidental death in children between the ages of 1 and 4? Or how many times we were told “be safe around water”?   *ZERO* Never.

Do you know how many times I’ve watched them have an entire conversation about, and quiz my kids over stranger danger, what to do if someone approaches them? How to get to safety?  At least 10 times.

Do you know how many children are abducted by strangers in the U.S. every year?  115. One-hundred and fifeteen. (According to the latest comprehensive study from the U.S. Department of Justice).

Do you know how many children drown (die) in the U.S. every year?  712

And for every child who drowns, there are FIVE children who receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. That’s more than 3,500 children a year who were lucky to be pulled from the water in time. (According to the CDC water safety fact sheet).

I had no idea how prevalent it was, because I was never told.
For my birthday this year, I’m asking for donations to Judah Brown Project. I’ve chosen this nonprofit because their mission is important to me and to all parents and children. It was founded by Judah’s teacher, and is run by her and Judah’s mom, Christi. They travel to area schools and beyond to teach drowning prevention and water safety for children ages 1-4 years old. They also provide scholarships for swim classes to families who cannot afford them.

I always thought drownings happened to other people, other families, other children. Not me, not my kids. I’m with them all the time. I know everything they’re doing. I’m a good mom.
When I was in high school, my then 2-year old sister fell into the pool while we were “watching” her. She was saved by my mom who had a feeling she should run out and check on her, and jumped in, fully-clothed, and enough time to save her. We knew we were supposed to be watching her, but we didn’t understand how easy and fast it could happen. We didn’t think it could happen to us, honestly.

On my son, Sam’s 7th birthday, he was swimming in a pool less than 10 feet from my dad, James, and I as were were sitting in lounge chairs. I had 4 month old baby Lou in my lap and was watching her, thinking my dad and James were watching Sam. I looked up and discovered Sam had fallen off the step and was under water with his finger tips thrashing out of the surface. My dad and James thought he was playing around, or maybe they just didn’t think it was happening since Sam had some swim lessons, but I knew instantly, and I was out of my seat the moment I saw him. I literally tossed baby Lou to James and jumped in, fully clothed, and pulled him out. It was the scariest and single most life-changing moment for me as a mom.

When this happened, I realized the messages and warnings were true; drowning does happen in an instant. And it really does happen when children are surrounded by adults. And there’s a reason it’s called the “silent killer”. A child will struggle for 20-60 seconds before submersion occurs. Drowning takes 30 seconds. And it does happen when parents are “watching” their children. And it happens to good and loving parents. It happens, period.

Because of Christi’s story and because of my experience, I have changed the way I think about water safety. I am in the water with my kids at arms reach. I am not distracted. I am continuously watching, and if I have to turn around to do something or leave the area, I designate someone I trust to be actively watching until I return. But I didn’t change my habits until after I had to pull Sam from the water. My hope is that you do not wait for something similar to happen to your family.

If you are unable to donate, all I ask of you is to please visit their website and take with you Judah’s sweet face and his family’s story, and pass the awareness on to your family members and your friends. If you didn’t know the facts above, I’m sure they don’t either. And if the wonderful Pediatricians from the 4th greatest Children’s Hospital in the United States are not sharing water safety information with parents, then your friends and family are probably not receiving it either.
And if you made it all the way down here, thank you!