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Drowning Awareness Month kicks off at Phoenix Children’s Hospital

PHOENIX — August is Drowning Impact Awareness Month in Arizona.

To mark the beginning of the event, people placed ribbons on trees Wednesday at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“The 2,000 ribbons that are attached to the trees out here in the courtyard each represent a child who has been involved in a drowning incident since the year 2000,” said Debra Stevens, marketing manager for the hospital.

One of those children is 8-year-old Santana Black of Gilbert. In 2006, a babysitter found Black in a pool after he had been underwater for 20 minutes, which resulted in brain damage. Black is now in a wheelchair and can’t speak or smile.

His mother, Linda Black, said people think that since he survived, everything is OK. But, she said things changed forever.

“We did lose our child,” Linda said. “He can’t walk. He can’t eat on his own. He has a tube for all of his nutrition and all of his medication. He has a seizure disorder on top of it.”

Linda said Santana’s condition affects her whole family. She said her other children are often prevented from doing activities because she has to take Santana to his doctor’s appointments, and that it can put a strain on everyone.

Still, Linda said Santana brings joy into everyone’s lives and that she wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Linda said she wants other parents to know the dangers of having their kids around water.

Drowning prevention information will be available at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, as well as all Arizona YMCAs and La-Z-Boy furniture stores as part of the month-long campaign.