KERNERSVILLE, NC — One local Triad swim instructor is spending her days saving lives. Darlene Haskins, executive director of the nonprofit organization Hand in Hand Water Safety Awareness Foundation and owner of Safe Swim NC Specialized Aquatic Training LLC, has made it her life’s mission to equip all people with survival swimming skills and water safety education to prevent drowning.
Haskins’ passion began when she first began working as a lifeguard and swim instructor in high school. She went on to obtain her Early Childhood Education certificate, operated a large in-home preschool, and taught in a variety of facilities. During this time, she continued to lifeguard and teach swimming at the local YMCA.
“I was asked by several families if there were any ISR instructors in the area – it became apparent that there was a desire for something more than the mommy and me classes and traditional swim lessons available. After researching the program, I applied to become an instructor, was accepted in 2013, and trained in 2014. Now, I spend almost every waking hour trying to prevent our local families from experiencing drowning tragedies by teaching children and educating parents,” says Haskins.
Through Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), she became increasingly educated on water safety and drowning statistics and has become a strong advocate for survival swim lessons, which first train students as young as six months old to do a lifesaving back float, and educating on the layers of drowning prevention. Recognizing a need for comprehensive water safety education, she founded Hand in Hand Water Safety Awareness Foundation, which hosts a Learn-to-Swim outreach program in Kernersville, operates a global outreach program in Uganda, provides free water safety educational events and resources throughout the Triad, and grants swim lesson scholarships to families in need of financial assistance.
The lifesaving business is now a family affair. Darlene’s husband, William Haskins, owns and operates Life Saver Pool Fence of the Triad, which provides the safest available mesh pool fencing for residences with a lifetime warranty.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4,000 people drown in the United States each year; drowning kills more children between the ages of 1 and 4 than anything else except birth defects. Among children up to 14 years of age, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury- related death behind motor vehicle crashes. More than half of those who are treated in an emergency department for drowning require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with about 6% of all unintentional injuries), and those who do survive may suffer lasting consequences.