CDC: Youth minorities are among likeliest to drown - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

CDC: Youth minorities are among likeliest to drown

Children swim at Southern Hills pool last summer. Children swim at Southern Hills pool last summer.

Four years ago, two Shreveport families were changed forever when tragedy struck along the banks of the Red River.

In the summer of 2010, the Stewart and Warner families each lost three loved ones. A family outing along the banks of the river quickly went from fun to frantic as six children drowned in the muddy water.

The six drownings quickly grabbed national attention. Neither the Warner nor the Stewart children knew how to swim.

At the time of the incident, Caddo Parish Sheriff Spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick said the six were with a large group of family members and friends including two adults for an afternoon of swimming and barbecuing. The six teens and a 15-year-old male cousin of the Warner's reportedly waded out several feet into the water.

As they were wading back to a sand bar, the 15-year-old stepped off a ledge or drop-off that could not be seen in the murky water.

Caddo Parish Sheriff's deputies said that the 15-year-old screamed for help and the other children reportedly tried to get to him, but none could swim. Only the 15-year-old cousin, who caught a life vest from nearby swimmers, could be saved.

According to Center for Disease Control or CDC, deaths by drowning affects minorities more than any other population in the United States.

Some are calling minority drowning deaths an epidemic that can be prevented through education. Many have pointed to cultural differences, economics and even the lack of interest as some of the reasons many minorities don't know how to swim.

That's why Shreveport organizations like Rock Solid, which has spearheaded many swimming lessons in minority areas, are doing everything they can to bring the fatality rates down. Rock Solid CEO Shelley McMillan said it all starts with the parents.

"If you don't know how the swim, chances are you aren't going to get your kid in a pool," McMillan said. "So, if we can now teach you how to swim and teach your children how to swim it now becomes, it now becomes an activity you can do together to beat fear and to gain skills and again to prevent things like what happened in 2010 on the Red River."

McMillian also addressed the question of why African Americans are more at risk and why some may be less likely to take swimming lessons. "We've really done a lot of studying on that over the five years and what I found is that it's a cultural thing number one."

Shreveport resident Jamarkees Edwards says, while he was growing up, neighborhood children were focused on other things.  "More kids are doing other sports and stuff like that. They were playing basketball, football, they cared less about swimming."

McMillian adds, since more pools have opened, more children are beginning to take lessons at their local pools.  "Because they are in minority areas people can walk to them. The cost of going into them is very in expensive. They cost of lessons is inexpensive and the better chance you have in a crisis to not only save your self but to save other people lives."

For more information on swimming lessons in Shreveport Click Here.

For more Shreveport public pool schedules Click Here.

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