Communication Builds Our Community

Rotary on the Ridge Earns Water Safety Advocacy Award

Rotary on the Ridge has been recognized with a 2019-2020 Water Safety Advocacy Award by the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation.

The regional after hours service club kicked off its water safety initiative in the spring of 2019 using the foundation's Josh the Baby Otter program materials. The club presented the water safety program to more than 500 children at Chain of Lakes and Spook Hill elementary schools and at day care centers in Dundee and Lake Wales.

Planned 2020 programs were delayed due to the COVID-19 virus, but the club expects to expand its presentations for the spring of 2021. Club leadership also is talking to City of Lake Wales and YMCA officials about partnering to provide swim lessons to young children.

Josh the Baby Otter is named after Kathy and Blake Collinsworth's young son Joshua, who slipped out of sight during a family gathering in 2008 and drowned in their backyard pool. The Collingsworths formed the Lincoln, NE based Foundation to educate children and adults worldwide about water safety through the utilization of drowning prevention campaigns & early childhood water safety training.

Rotary on the Ridge members read the Josh the Otter book to kindergarten and pre-K children and challenged them to learn to float and pledge to stay away from water without an adult present. The club provides each classroom with a book and otter puppet and each child with a coloring book and pledge sticker. The club purchased a full-size otter costume, worn by a member, to dance and high-five with the children.

Rotary on the Ridge also featured the otter at community events and on their float in the Lake Wales Christmas Parade. The club used a pirate theme and raised money for the water safety materials by selling treasure maps offering a drawing for a month of daily prizes.

Rotary on the Ridge meets every Monday, currently via online ZOOM, and at the Ouellette Law Firm community room in downtown Lake Wales. Members come from throughout East Polk County. Rotary on the Ridge was chartered in December 2016 by Rotary International. New members are welcome. For more information, email [email protected].


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