Every summer we hear about drowning and water-related deaths that could
have been prevented. It is an unfortunate fact that a high percentage of those deaths involve children. Sadly, Mitchell Temple-Medhurst was one of those children. Mitchell had been in the care of a Children’s Aid Society at the time of his death in 2004 at Port Stanley Beach. This tragedy prompted an inquest and a review of the recommendations for water-based activities for children in care.
Mitchell’s Medals is an initiative that began eleven years ago by Family and Children’s Services of St. Thomas and Elgin as a way to both honour Mitchell’s memory and to assist and encourage children in care to learn water safety and life-saving techniques. On June 28, 2017 the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society (KHCAS) will hold its 4th annual Mitchell’s Medals event at Trent Pool for children in the care of the Society, or for those served by the Society but living with family members.
Attendees will have a chance to achieve proficiency in the “Swim to Survive” test as established by The Lifesaving Society of Canada. The test measures the ability to orient oneself at the surface after an unexpected entry into the water, support oneself at the surface by treading water for one minute and swim to safety by covering 50 meters using any stroke. Eighteen children are registered for the event and will be accompanied by their caregivers or foster parents. They will be tested and will then enjoy pizza while receiving a bronze, silver or gold medal depending on the level of water safety they are able to achieve. Everyone will receive at least a bronze medal for entering the water.
“All children should have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to keep themselves safe in and around water. At KHCAS our water safety policy aims to balance a desire to provide children in our care with these skills, while at the same time making sure that they are enjoying these normal childhood experiences. This event is our way of honouring Mitchell’s memory while providing the skills necessary to children that may one day save their life”, said Jennifer Wilson, Executive Director of KHCAS.