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June 28, 2004
Junior Boater Program Teaches Young Kids Water Safety
Extra! Read All Aboat It!
AUSTIN, Texas — Though it is only two years old, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department water and boater safety program reaches more than 10,000 children per year.
Junior Boater was started for kids younger than age 12 in an effort to reach those who are not old enough to be eligible for Boater Safety certification.
"We wanted to make children aware that the water is great fun but there are also dangers that kids need to watch out for and take precautions against," said Jack Dyess, TPWD’s statewide boater education coordinator.
These precautions are taught by the program, which requires kids to succeed at four of the following tasks to attain Junior Boater certification:
- Throwing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) to a target.
- Completing a PFD relay, where kids are on teams and try to find a PFD that fits them best, fasten it on, and then tag their teammate who does the same.
- Identifying at least two items they should have when leaving shore.
- Identifying water-related items as safe or hazardous and why.
- Learning about weight distribution in a boat.
- Identifying water pollutants.
- Learning basic boating directions and terminology.
- Being able to recognize the intended movement of a watercraft based on signals.
TPWD is hoping that leadership-type groups that take the class, like boy scouts, girls scouts and 4-H groups will fan out across Texas and teach the course to others. TPWD loans out all supplies, including life jackets and manuals with directions for instructors. All anyone has to do is request a kit and specify a time and place.
"Children have the ears of their families and friends. This is a way for us to reach a lot of people with basic safe water and boating messages," Dyess said.
For more information about how to set up a seminar, call (800) 792-1112, press 0 and ask for 4938.
Editors: There are pictures available of kids in PFD relays and completing a canoe exercise. To request one, call (512) 389-8046.
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