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Mother works for swim safety after her two children drown

NORTHSIDE, Ohio (Paula Toti) -- An almost unimaginable tragedy sent a local mom on a mission to keep children safe around the water.
   
Her boys drowned because when they fell into the water and no one nearby knew how to swim.  So this summer swim lessons will be available to children who otherwise could not afford them.

It's been a mission Barbara Jeff has been on for three years: making sure children learn to swim and that money won't be a barrier in getting them lessons.  Her two boys, Cameron and Bryce, drowned in 2011 in a neighbor's pool.  Sadly, Barbara has learned since then nine children drown every day in the U.S. and a surprising number don't know how to swim.

She says, "And also, I know there's a lot of children who have the misconception of thinking they can swim because they can get in the water but can't swim in deep water."

Barbara says too often children are going unsupervised or the people watching don't have lifesaving water skills.  For children and adults it might not be a quick learn.  It could take years to get to the point where a person is a good swimmer.

Barbara says she grew up afraid of the water and thought it was enough to just stay away and keep her children away from it.  But that's not reality.

"You have kids that might go on a field trip and still need those lessons.  Or may need to assist someone and if they haven't had lessons they can't help," said Barbara.

Those lessons can be helpful and fun.  Barbara is making a difference one child and message at a time.


Water safety starts in your own backyard even if there isn't a pool.  A cooler filled with water, a bucket used to soak the corn; there can be enough standing water where a toddler can drown in many places.
 
The Cincinnati Recreation Commission has a list of swim lessons available at all 23 city pools this summer.  Local 12 is told the 'I Can Swim Program" vows to not turn any child away.  Money for the lessons has come from grants and private fundraisers in honor of Cameron and Bryce Jeff.



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