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Lifesaving organization marks 1 year of childhood drowning prevention

Florida on track to see most child drownings in decade
Posted at 7:05 PM, Dec 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 10:53:03-05

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — This year, more children have died from drowning in Florida than at any point in the past decade.

According to the Department of Children and Families, more than 90 kids have drowned so far in 2021.

Statistics like this highlight the urgency childhood drowning prevention groups have to change the narrative.

Callie Carlisle remembers her mom telling her what happened to her older brother.

"He fell off the boat in the Intracoastal, and he started floating and put his arm up in the air and started yelling, 'Help, I'm in the water,'" she recalled.

Callie Carlisle, brother nearly drowned
Callie Carlisle speaks about how her brother nearly drowned.

Carlisle's brother survived, and that survival training is what Carlisle is giving to her son Mason, now eight months old, at the Live Like Jake Foundation facility in Palm Beach Gardens.

The organization is marking its first year with an indoor swimming pool, designed to teach ISR self-rescue swim lessons year-round.

"We're always saying drowning knows no season but unfortunately swim lessons do," said Keri Morrison, Live Like Jake's executive director.

Morrison started Live Like Jake not long after her own family tragedy.

Keri Morrison, Live Like Jake founder
Keri Morrison speaks about the one-year anniversary of the Live Like Jake Foundation.

"It's really hard. We just had his anniversary on the 30th," said Morrison, wiping away a tear.

Morrison lost her 2-year-old son Jake to a drowning death back in 2013.

In his memory, she has dedicated herself to protecting others.

She's disheartened to see Florida with higher numbers of child drownings.

Jake Morrison, died of drowning in 2013
Jake Morrison died at the age of 2 after drowning on Nov. 30, 2013.

"It's just a punch in the gut to me every time I see one. When it's here locally, it gets me even more, I beat myself up. … How did I not reach them?"

Morrison reached out to Christina Canavan when Canavan was at her lowest point.

"On Thanksgiving 2015, we had a drowning accident," Canavan recalled.

Her two older boys now watching from above, Canavan was one of 2,800 families nationwide to receive a scholarship from Live Like Jake, to get Canavan's other son Kayson in the pool.

The help, not just financial, gave Canavan the impetus to become a swim instructor.

"In order to honor Jaxson and Layton and that their accident wasn't in vain. This was my purpose," Canavan said.

To learn more about Live Like Jake, visit www.livelikejake.com.