Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Nolin River Lake Ranger Danielle Robertson gave a helping hand May 1, teaching young children and their parents about water safety from a different perspective using a character called Josh the Otter. She read them a storybook Josh the Baby Otter at the Edmonson County Library Brownsville, Kentucky, and she helped with related arts and crafts so younger kids could learn water safety messages. Seven children and their parents attended the event.
Josh the Otter is a water safety campaign represented by a national annual event held in May — National Water Safety Month. It was designed and created to help children comprehend and remember to stay away from water unless accompanied by an adult. The children participating are around three to five years old. They take a pledge as part of the activities: “I promise to be a good son or daughter. I promise to get an adult when I go near the water.”
The mission is to educate children and hold events about water safety through drowning prevention campaigns and early childhood water safety training, according to Robertson.
It is a perfect match for the Corps’ similar water safety messages, and it is aimed at younger children and their parents so they can learn together. One aspect of the campaign is to show the way children and adults perceive bodies of water, according to the website JoshtheOtter.org
The group also learned about otters, swimming lesson options in the area, and to always wear a lifejacket while boating or near the water at the lake.
The Josh the Otter program includes a book, song, a suggested curriculum, magnets, stickers, a stuffed animal and t-shirts.
“It was a fun opportunity to play, have crafts and masks and to teach our future visitors of Nolin Lake how to be safe around the water,” said Robertson. Shortly after the event, the library’s Facebook page included a post, “Both my kids loved story time!”
Josh the Otter book, coloring books and masks were donated by the Josh Collins Memorial Foundation. The foundation was started after a child, Joshua Collingsworth, passed away due to complications from a drowning accident near Omaha. His family created the Josh the Otter campaign for water safety in his memory.