Florida Legislators Support ISHOF Inspired Bill Promoting Every Child A Swimmer Before Kindergarten

Florida-Legislature-ECAS (1)
The Florida House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Early Learning and Elementary Education recently voted 18-0 to support the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s (ISHOF) Every Child A Swimmer House Bil

The Florida House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Early Learning and Elementary Education recently voted 18-0 to support the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s (ISHOF) Every Child A Swimmer House Bill HB1119 (Formally known as the Edna Mae McGovern Act).  A version of the Bill (SB 358) now moves to the Senate.  The Florida State Senate will hear the Bill (SB 358) on Tuesday, March 30 at 8:30 EDT.

Florida Tax Watch held a press conference earlier in support of the Every Child A Swimmer Bill saying that it would be no cost to the state to implement. “The economic risk reduction over a two year period is estimated to be between 3 to 7.8 billion in avoidable expenses associated with childhood drownings,” said Dominic Calabro – President and CEO of Florida Tax Watch. Download Briefing Click here to watch press conference.

  • HB1119: in simple language, the parents of each child entering kindergarten will be asked IF they have given their child swim lessons.  If their answer is NO, then the school will be required to give them a piece of paper with five local learn-to-swim resources on it.  This legislation has no cost to the government and is NOT a mandate for swim lessons.  It simply creates awareness amongst parents of their responsibility to teach their children to swim.
  • It is expected that SB 358 will be modified to match HB1119

Dr. Bill Kent, Chairman of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, has championed the Every Child A Swimmer Bill as part of ISHOF’s mission to promote Every Child A Swimmer and prevent childhood drownings.

“Swimming is perhaps the only activity or sport that will save a life.  So making sure that children are comfortable in and around water is paramount to their safety.  I am very proud to be co-sponsor of this Bill,” said Senator Lori Berman

“We got to do a better job in teaching our children how to swim.  It is inexcusable that children are drowning in our state.  This might be the most important Bill to come to the floor this year,” said Representative Jim Mooney.

“Drowning is 99 to 100 percent preventable and that is what this Bill gets at.  I look forward to getting this across the finish line this year.  It is just too darn important,” said Representative Dan Daley.

The following are Dr. Kent’s talking points in support of the Every Child A Swimmer Bill (SB 358):

  • A 2020 poll of Florida registered voters confirmed that over 90% believe every child should be taught how to swim
  • In the real world, less than half of Americans know how to swim
  • Most school systems are not positioned to provide swim lessons for their students
  • There are 1.2 million backyard and public-use pools, plus tens of thousands of natural bodies of water, everywhere in the State of Florida
  • It is a basic parental responsibility to teach their children to swim
  • To raise the issue with parents, SB 358 simply requires that the school system, during the kindergarten entry process, asks the parents if they have provided swim lessons to their child
  • Parents can voluntarily answer the question or not answer the question without cause; this bill is NOT a mandate to require swim lessons
  • Simply asking the question guarantees that every parent becomes aware of this parental responsibility.
  • The long-term impact of this bill will be to create a safer, healthier citizenry since many parents will take action to teach their child to swim
  • There are numerous scholarship programs for financial support should the parents be unable to afford but desire to provide swim lessons for their child
  • When implemented, SB 358 will not impact the budget of any school system.
  • Once learned, basic swim skills will stay with each individual for the rest of their life
  • There are numerous positive health benefits gained from swimming regardless of age.
  • Research validates that children who learn to swim at an early age actually develop mentally and physically at a measurably better level, even performing better in school.

The bi-partisan House Bill is sponsored by Rep. Dan Daley (D. Dist 97) and Rep. Jim Mooney (R. Dist 120).

The bi-partisan Senate Bill is sponsored by Senators Lori Berman (D. Dist 31), Lauren Book (D. Dist 32) and Keith Perry (R. Dist 8)

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