Story by Haley Humphrey
Photo courtesy of Jackson Slayter
Summer will be here in a heartbeat. One of the most common activities many people enjoy during this time is swimming. However, water can be dangerous. If water safety is not practiced, drowning can occur in any body of water. For the first time in three years, the Wee Water Wahoo event the Rose State Aquatic Center holds was cancelled April 4 due to the teacher walkouts. Since schools are not open, the students do not have a means of transportation to arrive at the event location.
“Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death to children 2-14 in Oklahoma,” according to the Safe Kids Oklahoma organization. This group, along with others like Healthy Schools for Oklahoma, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, Junior League of OKC and the Oklahoma City Fire Department had collaborated with the Rose State Aquatic Center to put on the Wee Water Wahoo event for more than 500 kindergarteners throughout the Oklahoma City area. The event, which was to occur from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. April 6, teaches hands-on water safety to children.
Kim Queri, Aquatic Coordinator and professor of Social Sciences, was enthusiastic to share the significant process of the event that has dedicated partnerships and helpful volunteers.
“It was geared toward schools that are involved with healthy lifestyles,” Queri said.
The organizations assisting in the Wee Water Wahoo event aided in administering schools with the educational materials teachers need to instruct students throughout the year. Once the month of April is reached, students can be brought to a facility to reemphasize water safety education. Queri discussed how there are four sessions the children rotate through.
The children divide into groups of 75-120. Throughout the event, they listen to a lecture, watch a video and then experience the water in the Rose State pool with the volunteers’ observation and interaction.
“It looks like organized chaos,” Queri said.
The event brings joyful fun to an important lesson all students should be informed about.
“I’m not sure who is having more fun, the volunteers in the water playing with the kids, or the kids in the water,” Queri noted.
Water safety is essential to life. Without the organizations and volunteer efforts from the Rose State Men’s Soccer team, lifeguards and many more, the annual event would have ended a long time ago.
“It was fun to play with the kids,” Jackson Slayter, Rose State Soccer player, said. “My favorite part [was] knowing it was their first time being in the water and seeing their reaction.”
The acknowledgment of the need for more children’s aquatic programs was heard years ago when Brett Wood, a previous aquatic coordinator, orchestrated more youth community programming that could be held at the Rose State Aquatic Center.
Queri stated that the complex’s previous mission was directed toward the adult community. Now, because of Wood’s and Queri’s consistent efforts, Rose State Aquatic Center has expanded its focus in creating student-oriented clubs, teams and special events. It is home to the Mid-Del school swim teams (Carl Albert, Del-City and Midwest City) to practice and host meets.
Rose State’s swim club, which also uses the facility, travels and competes. Queri knew the members wanted an organization at the collegiate level where they could further their swimming careers. They started with six students, but the club has now progressed to more than 20.
Expansion is always on the horizon. With support from Rose State President Jeanie Webb and the renovation projects the Aquatic Center has gone through, Rose State will continue to be a strong advocate of water safety and event growth.
If interested in learning more about the water safety events taking place at the Aquatic Center or signing up to volunteer for next year’s Wee Water Wahoo event, contact Queri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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