A flood of first-graders descended on the Edith Ball Adaptive Recreation Center Tuesday morning to learn about water safety.
The lessons taught at the Water Safety is for You event will be crucial as Tucson slips into the summer months and rising temperatures make cool water more appealing.
Two children have died this year and a third nearly drowned in the metro area, said Tracy Koslowski, a spokeswoman for the Drexel Heights Fire District.
More than 700 students from eight elementary schools from different districts attended the event, which was organized by Safe Kids Tucson, a network of local organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to children.
It was the second year for the event, held at the recreation center in Reid Park.
Firefighters, police officers, nurses and others in preventive health participated in the program.
Demonstrations on life jackets and water rescues were coupled with skits and games aimed at 6-year-olds while organizers stressed the importance of adult supervision, barriers around pools and swim classes.
The event is the culmination of a month of water safety lessons at the eight elementary schools.
The curriculum, developed by a Phoenix teacher whose 3-year-old son drowned in 1998, uses a book and CD featuring Stewie the Duck.
“They definitely like it,” said Alex Edwards, a teacher at Cavett Elementary School in the Tucson Unified School District. “I’ve got that Stewie the Duck song in my head, I’ve played it so many times.”
Edwards, who has been using the curriculum for two years, said it is important to teach water safety in the classroom.
“There are a lot of drownings and a lot of those kids are not taught water safety,” she said.
Amber Miramontes, a teacher at TUSD’s Miller Elementary School, said the curriculum incorporates academic lessons, along with the message of water safety.
“It’s a really good unit,” she said.