In 2006, Kareem Angel Green tragically drowned on a school field trip at a swimming pool. He was left unattended by the staff. He was 5 years old.
Since the incident, his mother, Arkeisha Reese, who lives in Osceola, has been on a mission to prevent children from drowning. In 2015, Reese founded the Team Kareen Memorial Foundation in honor of her son. This program provides children and families with free swimming lessons and other related events and services.
Reese told Spectrum News 13 in 2022, “I don’t want to see another child drown.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States every year.
In efforts to change that number, Senate Bill 74, dubbed “Child Water Safety Requirements,” was filed in December by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriquez of Miami-Dade.
This bill will require schools, summer camps, preschools, nurseries, or any other facility that supervises children under the age of 12, must require parents or legal guardians to attest in writing whether their child can swim before taking children to public swimming pools.
If the child can’t swim, the organization must provide a Type II or III United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device to each child when accessing a body of water within a fenced-in area or 100 feet of a public bathing place or public swimming pool without a fenced-in area.
Regina Bradwell, the program coordinator at Miracles in Me Childcare Center and Academy in Tallahassee, favors this act.
“I definitely think [documentation] should be required,” Bradwell said. “The state does have things in place now like if we take the children around water, we have to have plus one staff.”
Bradwell, who is also a registered nurse, says Miracles in Me has its own water safety protocols when they take children to public pools.
“I’d rather be safe than sorry, so we do a round-up every 45 minutes that we’re there and do a headcount before releasing them back into the water.”
The bill was referred to the following committees: Health Referred to Health Policy; Children, Families, and Elder Affairs. It was introduced by the Rules committee on Jan. 1, and was introduced on March 7, the first day of Florida’s legislative session.
If the bill is passed, it will be named the “Kareem Angel Green Act.”