The Rotary Club of Longboat Key taught students about water safety with Josh's help.
An adult can tell kids about water safety all they want, but a furry otter can help make the message stick. The Rotary Club of Longboat Key visited kindergarteners at Tuttle Elementary School to teach them about water safety with the story of Josh the Baby Otter.
Four Rotarians read the story "Josh the Baby Otter" to the class after member Jack Rozance introduced the topic of water safety to everyone. From the get-go, it seemed like the students were on board with the idea. Rozance called for examples of water safety and several kids noted the importance of swimming with a buddy. The story also emphasized the importance of learning to float — the baby otter had to learn how before he could go play with friends.
After the story came the big event of the day. Josh the Otter himself came in to recite the water safety pledge with the kids and danced to a song about learning to float. Kids eagerly stepped up to hug Josh and pet his fur. They headed back to class with a copy of the book for each of them.
Josh the Otter is a program that was started by Blake Collingsworth, whose son Joshua died after falling in a pool. The book, which Collingsworth wrote when he started the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation, emphasizes the importance of kids staying away from water unless an adult is with them.
The Longboat Key Rotarians have been involved in the program for several years after former president Nancy Rozance learned Florida is the number one state for drownings under the age of 4. Rozance is also the member who dons the Josh costume annually.
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