Water safety classes return for third year
By: JAMES A. ROBICHAUX
The Aqua Safety First Community Program will hold its third annual water safety event, open to the public at the Pavillion on Lake End Park in Morgan City, on June 9, 10 a.m. to noon.
“The recent situation with 11-year-old Dwayne losing his life has impacted this a great deal,” Woodrow Parker, founder and director of the program, said, referring to the death on May 24 of Dwayne LeBeau, who had just graduated from fifth grade at M.E. Norman Elementary School earlier that day.
“There is a need there. A year before, a four-year-old passed away in Assumption Parish from drowning,” Parker said.
“It happens at this time of the year every year. There’s a reason why we do this event. There was not enough knowledge or awareness of water safety,” he said.
“This year, we’re going to be different than last year. This year we’re going to be giving out free swimming lessons,” he said.
The Aqua Safety First Community Program is a non-profit program started in Morgan City, and Parker said that he hopes to expand the water safety event to one additional parish each year to eventually make it state-wide. St. Martin Parish has its first event this year.
“The local folks here live around water, and we’re surrounded by water, and the fact that we use water for recreation and transportation, and the fact the livelihood is based on water, why not have more outreach about it?
“I looked at the national statistics on minorities drowning,” Parker, who is black, said. “The fear of water — the affordability wasn’t there. That made me decide to start this.”
The U.S. Coast Guard, Morgan City-based commercial diving company DivCon and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will be at the event for the safety class demonstrations.
Parker said that participants in the event “can gain knowledge as it relates to boating and pool safety and regulations, life jackets, how to use a flare gun, visual signals, firefighting equipment, and U.S. Coast Guard-approved floatation devices.”
Anyone wishing to offer help, including in the form of instruction at the water safety events, or who wants to learn more information about the event, can call Parker at 985-519-0716 or can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.