Justina Pratt Is Saving Lives With Her Work In The Safe Start Swim Class Presented By The YMCA. She Is June’s 1 In 100 Million Everyday Hero. FYI has sponsored this #1in100MM post featuring #WorkforceStories, however all opinion and statements contained within are my own.
Justina Pratt Saving Lives With Safe Start Swim Class YMCA
For June’s 1 In One Hundred Million series, where we’re profiling Justina Pratt. We are celebrating ordinary people in the workforce and telling their stories. Her work with Safe Start Swim Class available through the YMCA is helping to save the lives of children in her Central Florida location. Being a resident of Florida myself, I know first hand the importance of water safety and why teaching children to swim at an early age is such an important topic. Growing up surrounded by the beauty of the sun, sand and beach is part of our everyday life. For most of us, the smell of the ocean air, sand between our toes and the sound of crashing waves is a common and comforting as the sound of our mother’s voice. However, behind that comfort lies a danger. In Florida, drowning rates for children under age 5 are more than double the national average and are higher than in any other state in the nation.
There’s one woman trying to help change those statistics. Justina Pratt works in the Safe Start Swim Program as a water survival instructor for infants and young children aged 6 months to 6 years. It’s a very specialized program and the only like it in the country. The Safe Start Swim Program Justina Pratt is involved in includes 17 instructors who teach at 24 different pools. Dedicated to saving children’s lives, they go through an 8-week training process through ISR (Infant Swimming Resource– self rescue training) Once there, they also learn important swim related medical information, and important skills on how to interact with children and families in this environment. Justina is extremely passionate about the Safe Start Swim Program. She loves her job because it’s so rewarding to make a difference for even one family. She’s seen its life-saving power firsthand. She herself survived a near drowning at the age of 18 months and knows the life-or-death difference it can make.
She is now 35 years old and the mother of 2 boys. In 2013, one of her own sons (3 at the time) fell into the water while fishing off of dock. He immediately knew to roll onto his back and saved himself because the training he received in the Safe Start Swim Program. As of this date, she has taught over 250 kids these same life saving skills through the program. Being extremely dedicated to this cause, she spends 5-6 hours in the water each day teaching. “I still remember the first time a parent called me and told me a child had rescued themselves. I was in tears.” says Justina. And, from the heartwarming feedback she’s received from parents, she knows she’s found a lifelong calling. Between her own near drowning and that of her son’s, Justina considers her work with the program a privilege.
I invite all of you to visit 1 in One Hundred Million and watch this powerful web series. Each month features a new everyday hero such as Justina Pratt. These everyday heroes remind us all that the men and women who work tirelessly behind the scenes should be celebrated for all the important work they do!