Arizona has seen plenty of headlines about child drownings and about the economic downturn, as well. This year the two issues may combine to create an unforeseen and deadly effect: an increased risk of child drownings. As families struggle to pay for pool fences, swimming lessons, child care and CPR instruction, "stay-cations" mean more time spent by the family pool, and increasingly stressed and distracted caregivers.

Arizonans will unite this August with the annual "Drowning Impact Awareness Month" effort. The purple ribbon campaign increases awareness and is coordinated by Phoenix Children's Hospital. The key message is that "awareness is free," and vital strategies like supervision can save lives.

More than 60,000 purple ribbons have already been distributed to supporters statewide. Formal proclamations have been signed by Governor Brewer and mayors across the state, many presented at local Council meetings to members of local fire departments or families touched by drowning. More than 1,000 purple ribbons will be tied in the trees in front of Phoenix Children's Hospital to represent the number of children involved in water related incidents in Maricopa and Pima County since January of 2000. Banners and signs, donated and produced by SRP Safety Connection, will also be posted in public safety buildings, libraries, La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries stores, YMCA's throughout Maricopa County, Kohl's Department Stores and at Neighborhood Auto Repair Professional (NARPRO) facilities. This year's campaign will also include involvement, support and educational events from businesses, schools and the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona.

In honor of Drowning Impact Awareness Month, the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA is offering $10 off group swim lessons for the month of August. For details, contact Debbie Rothstein at djrothstein@vosymca.org.

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