WINTER PARK, Fla., April 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In honor of Autism Awareness Month, Goldfish Swim School – Winter Park has joined forces with Alijah’s Awareness to launch Alijah’s Swimmers Scholarships – a program that will provide 10, three-month swim lesson packages to local children so they have the opportunity to learn a lifesaving skill and become safer in and around the water. Starting April 5-30, community members are encouraged to submit an entry form for an opportunity to become a scholarship recipient, or to nominate a deserving family.
While drowning remains the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4, research shows that kids with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are 160 times more likely to die from drowning compared with the general pediatric population. This partnership aims to bring greater awareness to autism, and the need for increased water safety and education for all children.
«We are so grateful to be able to pursue this partnership opportunity and help even more children in our community learn a lifesaving skill,» said Gina Jacobs Thomas, owner of Goldfish Swim School – Winter Park. «Our mission is to ensure all kids feel safe and confident in and around the water, and this scholarship program gets us one step closer to achieving our goal of reducing the number of accidental childhood drownings. We look forward to welcoming new children to our school and are beyond appreciative of the Alijah’s Awareness donation and their commitment to spreading the important message of water safety.»
The Alijah’s Awareness platform was founded by Allyson Alvarez and Eric Gonzalez after their daughter, Alijah, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when she was 14 months old. As parents, they were committed to her health and wellness, conducting their own research and due diligence to help their child progress and develop. The platform was created to share their family’s story and inspire other families going through similar experiences. Sadly, in 2019 they faced a heartbreaking tragedy, losing their two-year-old daughter to a drowning accident while vacationing in Florida.
After the tragedy, they uncovered the staggering statistics on childhood drownings for children with autism. With this information, they felt passionately about bringing greater awareness to autism and drowning prevention. After learning more about Goldfish Swim School and its proprietary philosophy, The Science of SwimPlay®, which builds life skills both in and out of the water using play-based learning in a fun and safe environment, they sought out a partnership opportunity to make a positive impact.
«This partnership allows my husband and I the opportunity to make it known to parents of autistic children how essential it is that their child have swim lessons,» said Alvarez. «What I didn’t know then that I know now is that it wasn’t a personal characteristic of Alijah’s that she loved water; in fact, many autistic children have a heightened interest and curiosity for water that can be dangerous. When we learned about Goldfish Swim School and saw what they’ve been able to achieve with their programs, we knew we found a partner as passionate about water safety as we are.»
Scholarship recipients will be announced on Goldfish Swim School – Winter Park’s social media the first week of May. Each winning family will be contacted directly to begin the onboarding process and gear up for lessons just in time for National Water Safety Month (May) and the summer season ahead.
«As a pediatrician, it is so important that we promote conversations about water safety, drowning prevention and the value of swim lessons at a young age, for all children,» said Dr. Molly O’Shea of Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center and official pediatrician of Goldfish Swim School. «Swim lessons have the ability to help reduce the risk of childhood drownings by 88%. This scholarship program will make an impact. As families prepare for lessons, I encourage each parent to speak with the instructors about their child’s strengths and preferred teaching styles to enhance the experience and reinforce the important skills they’ll learn.»
Goldfish Swim School provides swim lessons and water safety instruction to infants and children ages four months to 12 years, teaching children how to be safer in and around the water. A new GOLDEN Learners program that is designed to help children with autism and special needs who may need a modified approach to swim lessons is also slated to launch systemwide next year. Each school’s number one focus and main priority is always the same – educating children on water safety while teaching them how to swim and respect the water.
«We know it takes a village to enact real change and are grateful for this partnership opportunity and those supporting us in our cause,» added Alvarez. «We believe Alijah left us with this job and we’ll continue to honor her legacy by helping families who may not have the means to pay for swim lessons. Although autism is near and dear to our hearts, we’d like to help anyone who wants swim lessons for their children, not just those with special needs. Drowning can happen anywhere at any time, to anyone.»
For more information on Goldfish Swim School, please visit https://www.goldfishswimschool.com/.
About Goldfish Swim School
Founded by husband and wife team Chris and Jenny McCuiston, Goldfish Swim School provides swim lessons and water safety instruction to infants and children ages four months to 12 years. Classes are offered by specially trained instructors in a safe, child-friendly and fun environment using their research-based philosophy called The Science of SwimPlay®. Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, Goldfish Swim School was established in Birmingham, Michigan in 2006, and opened its first franchise location in 2009. Recently, the brand was recognized by Entrepreneur in its Franchise 500® ranking, Franchise Times’ Fast & Serious List, and Inc. Magazine’s Top 5000. Goldfish Swim School is currently in the process of expanding franchise opportunities throughout North America, with more than 110 schools open, and an additional 130+ in development in more than 30 states and Canada.
About Goldfish Swim School – Winter Park
Jon and Gina Thomas opened Goldfish Swim School – Winter Park in June of 2017. Local residents and parents themselves, their mission is to educate families in their Central Florida community about the importance of water safety. As Florida leads the nation in accidental drownings, Jon and Gina aim to make a significant impact in helping children be safer in and around the water. In addition to offering swim lessons, they are also heavily involved in the community, connecting with hundreds of local families every year through free water safety presentations. For more information on Goldfish Swim School – Winter Park, please visit https://www.goldfishswimschool.com/winter-park
About Alijah’s Awareness
Founded by Allyson Alvarez and Eric Gonzalez after their daughter, Alijah, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when she was 14 months old, the Alijah’s Awareness platform is designed to inspire families going through similar experiences raising a child with autism. The platform encourages parents to commit to their child’s health and wellness, conducting their own research and due diligence to help their children progress and develop. Sadly, in 2019 they faced a heartbreaking family tragedy, losing their two-year-old daughter to a drowning accident while vacationing in Florida. The family continues to honor Alijah’s legacy by partnering with organizations across the country to bring more awareness to autism and drowning prevention. For more information on Alijah’s Awareness, please visit https://www.alijahsawareness.com/
Media Contact: Kelly McNamara, Fishman PR, 847-945-1300, KMcNamara@fishmanpr.com
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SOURCE Goldfish Swim School