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JOSH PROJECT

Advocates urge safety pledge at Wilson Pool

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Wanda Butts, left, Josh Project founder, stands with councilman Sandy Spang at Wilson Pool.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
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Pool-safety advocates and city officials used the newly opened Wilson Pool as a backdrop Tuesday when they urged people to sign a pledge to reduce childhood drowning and other pool accidents.

Representatives of the Josh Project and the city hope the pool-safety pledge will help cut pool-related accidents. The Consumer Product Safety Commission launched the national “Pool Safely” program to address the danger. A commission report estimated that 390 pool or spa-related fatalities were reported per year for 2009 through 2011 involving children younger than 15.

The Josh Project, created by Wanda Butts after her son, Josh, drowned in 2006, offers swim lessons and encourages water safety for young people. The project is led by Ms. Butts’ daughter, Tankeeya Butts.

“One of the mottos of Pool Safely is simple steps save lives. Teaching survival and swimming skills in early years of childhood depends a lot on parents and their vigilance,” said Sandy Spang, a city councilman and member of the Josh Project board of directors.

Adults and children can access the 2014 Pool Safely Pledge on the Pool Safely Web site, poolsafely.gov. In their pledge, adults promise to designate a water watcher for their children, to ensure children know how to swim, to learn CPR, to keep an eye on protective fences and drain covers, and more.

Children pledge to never swim alone, to ask their parents for swimming lessons, and to stay away from drains in pools and hot tubs.

Officials also recognized Laborers Local 500 and Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics Local 50 for their work repairing leaking pipes and other equipment at Wilson Pool.

The original 2014 city budget included no money for pools. Council later approved spending $266,199 of general fund money in the 2014 budget to operate four pools and the splash pad. The union laborers donated their time to repair Wilson Pool so it also could open this summer.

Councilman Steven Steele said, “They are why we can stand here today and teach kids safety right here in North Toledo.”

Contact Kathleen Ashcraft at:

kashcraft@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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