The third week of May has been officially declared “Roxie’s Wish: Drowning Prevention Week for Children” in honor of a 6-year-old Pasadena girl who drowned at an Altadena summer camp nearly two years ago.
The legislation, ACR 39, was authored by State Rep. Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, who has been working closely with the Meow Meow Foundation, set up by the parents of Roxie Forbes to raise awareness about child drowning danger in the wake of their family’s tragedy.
In observance of the newly created week of awareness, the Meow Meow Foundation, which is headed by Roxie’s parents, Doug Forbes and Elena Matyas, is planning a seven-day “unprecedented, week-long virtual event that addresses the endemic but largely underserved issue of childhood drowning,” the organization said in a written statement. The virtual event will begin on May 15.
“We honor Roxie in her death as we did in her life,” Forbes said. “Childhood drowning must finally receive the attention it deserves, since, on average, five to six U.S. children suffer from preventable fatal and nonfatal drownings every day. It’s the number one cause of injury-related death for children 1 to 4 and second for children 5 to 14. Enough is enough.”
“During our event, we will share stories of children because they must not be remembered as statistics,” according to Matyas. “These were vibrant, hopeful, beautiful young lives robbed of their futures because adults have not yet been able to assemble a wholly effective response.”
Participants are to include Olympians Missy Franklin Johnson, Janet Evans, Lenny Krayzelburg, John Naber, Lia Neal and Maritza McClendon, as well as other surprise guests, organizers said.
“Aquatics experts, NGOs, family foundations, community stakeholders, families and youth are also raising their voices from coast-to-coast,” according to the statement.
The production includes more than 80 videos ranging in topic from water safety to equity and inclusion in aquatics.
Holden is expected to take part, along with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Glendale, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis and former Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek.
The Meow Meow Foundation has worked to help introduce several other pieces of legislation, including Holden’s proposed AB 768, which would establish statewide drowning education and prevention policies.
“The bill is supported by a variety of government agencies, Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Michael Phelps Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others,” the statement said.
Preventing child drownings requires a wide array of tactics, Forbes said.
“Everything from drowning prevention curriculum at schools to good ordinances and laws to the best prevention barriers like pool fences and alarms, et cetera,” he said. “So it’s one cohesive solution.”
The Meow Meow Foundations also devotes attention to trying to comfort other families who have also experienced losses through childhood drowning,” Forbes said.
“We are in absolute agony over the loss of our daughter. We chose to channel that agony in a different way, but what folks need is a resource,” he said.
“For instance, in California, we check the media all the time to see if there are any new drowning events in the state. And if there are, we reach out to those families and we avail ourselves,” Forbes said. The group can offer resources and advice, or simply “be there at midnight, when you are in a dark place. We are here for you.”
Roxie Forbes, who family said could not swim, drowned at the Summerkids Camp in Altadena on June 28, 2019.
Starting May 15, one episode of Meow Meow’s video project will be released each day for seven days. They can be viewed on the Meow Meow Foundation website at meowmeowfoundation.org/roxies-wish-drowning-prevention-week-for-children, on the group’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/channel/UCBiq9NXV8Q19Xrqz2Uny6-A and on the foundation’s Instagram TV page at instagram.com/meowmeowfoundation2019.
More information on the Meow Meow Foundation can be found on the organization’s website at https://www.meowmeowfoundation.org.
The text of ACR 39, which designated “Roxie’s Wish: Drowning Prevention Week for Children,” can be found online at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220ACR39.