One Hernando County mother has turned a tragic and unthinkable loss into her quest to safeguard children from a common danger, childhood drowning. In 2020 Ashley Young’s twin 10-month old boys got out of an open door in her home while she was making breakfast and both fell into the pool. Cash was not harmed, but his brother Burke lost his life. Drowning is the leading cause of infant and toddler accidental death. Most drownings in children ages 1 to 4 happen in family pools. Ashley had looked into pool fences and swim lessons, but she shared that she “thought she had time.”
After getting over the shock of losing Burke, Ashley’s number one priority became getting Cash swim lessons and safe around water. She learned everything she could about drowning prevention and began searching for lessons for her son. She quickly found that in the entire area of Tampa bay, there were no lessons available for a one-year old that would ensure he was safe around water. “If he had learned to float and roll in the swimming pool, Burke would have been fine, “shared Ashley. She made it her mission to find a solution for son Cash. She connected with a mother who had also lost a child through drowning who shared information on the “FLOAT” program at her local Y in Tennessee.
Ashley was determined to ensure the program was available for her son and other families in Hernando County. She learned that the cost needed to train a certified instructor and begin the course locally was less than $5,000 and quickly mobilized community members to raise the needed funds to bring the “FLOAT” program to her local Y.
“I never want any mother to experience what we experience through losing our son through drowning. This is a preventable cause of death and we can all work together to skill our children and help them be able to survive.” Ashley is working with other donors to expand the “FLOAT” program to other Y’s in the Tampa Bay area with her goal to ensure it is available nationwide.