New bilingual book on water safety education on Lake Michigan
GRAND HAVEN — Water safety in the Great Lakes region is a constant topic of discussion, especially as drowning appears to be becoming more frequent along the West Michigan coastline.
There have already been 84 drownings in the Great Lakes this year, up from 64 this time last year, according to data from the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
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Friends of Grand Haven State Park’s Bob Moore noticed drowning on the rise and decided to do something about it.
“We recognized that the state was struggling with a solution to this problem,” he said. “And the solution to almost every problem is education.”
Moore reached out to Tim Wheeler of Wheeler Creative Studios to partner with them to create a children’s book about water safety in the Great Lakes. Wheeler has authored many children’s safety books on a variety of topics through his company, Cartoonversation, whose mission is to “save childhood.”
“If there’s a topic that’s hard for a 9-year-old to be 9-year-old, we’ll bring it up,” Wheeler says of Cartoonversation. “And who’s talking to her nine-year-old?”
A book called “If you get lost, don’t go out!” is the first in his planned three-book series. The first book covers what Wheeler said he believes is the first of three areas that the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium should focus on regarding water safety.
The book begins with a fun story that explains the history of the Great Lakes and how they formed. The story ends with water safety facts and questions to get kids thinking about water safety.
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Wheeler explained that he also decided to make the book a “flipbook”. This will make the same content available in Spanish when flipped over. In English,” Wheeler said. “In the summer, with this huge immigrant population, the beach is what they can do with their families.”
Both Moore and Wheeler said many of the drownings we see are people from out-of-town who don’t understand the dangers of the Great Lakes.
GLSRP’s Dave Benjamin saw many people drowning from out of town and agreed it was our job as locals to protect them.
“We invited them,” he said. “We have a higher duty of protection.”
Copies of this book are available at Grand Haven State Park.