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Jabari® - the Global Face of Water Safety

Rebecca Wear Robinson RWR Consultants, Inc.; Lioness Protects LLC; Jabari LLC (USA)

Abstract In general, children under 5 years of age have the highest drowning mortality rates worldwide. Existing programs target school-aged children with fear-based messaging and an emphasis on teaching swimming, not water safety. The focus of drowning prevention efforts must shift to young children and teach water safety in a way that becomes internalized and results in permanent behavioral change in order for drowning rates to drop permanently. Jabari® (ja-BAR- ee), a lion cub, is designed to be a global symbol of water safety targeted at young children, the age group at the greatest risk for drowning. Young children learn best through stories and through characters with positive and attainable personality traits. The global focus reaches all children efficiently and cost-effectively. Jabari® and his African animal friends were developed to appeal to children across a range of cultures. A range of behaviors and personalities that accurately mirror those that children recognize in themselves allows children to make sense of their environment and how to navigate their environment. The names reflect positive character traits and are phonemically appropriate for the age group. The setting and the adult role models are designed to provide children with a familiar context to learn water safety.

Key words: lifesaving; lifeguarding; water safety; drowning; drowning prevention; behavioral change.

Although there is awareness that drowning is a risk (Morrongiello & Kiriakou, 2004), it is clear that parents and caregivers do not understand how to adequately address that risk (Sandomierski, 2011). Existing programs have been largely ineffective in raising awareness and changing behavior adequately, which is reflected in a wide range of lapses of appropriate supervision and ineffective perceptions of the dangers involved (Quan, Gore, Wentz, Allen & Novack, 1989; Kemp & Sibert, 1992; Morrongiello & Dayler, 1996; Blum & Shield, 2000; Quan & Cummings, 2003; Cody et al., 2004; Morrongiello & Kiarakou, 2004; Morrongiello, Ondejko & Littlejohn, 2004a, 2004b; Morrongiello, Corbett, McCourt, & Johnson, 2006; Rahman, Shafinaz, Linnan, & Rahman, 2008; Moran, 2009; Ma et. al., 2010; Moran, 2010; Petrass, Blitvich & Finch, 2011). Most drowning prevention programs focus on teaching swimming rather than water safety, and virtually all programs target older, school-age children, yet the age group with the highest risk factor (ages 1-4) is virtually ignored (Brenner, Trumble, Smith, Kessler, & Overpeck, 2001; Browne, Lewis-Michl, & Stark, 2003; Quan & Cummings, 2003;). Children are viewed as an unthinking enemy incapable of self-control or of understanding danger and altering their behavior appropriately. (National Drowning Prevention Alliance [NDPA], 2011). Finally, many of the programs which have been developed to combat drowning are fear-based or focus on avoiding the water (Kjendlie, Stallman & Olstad, 2011). As a result, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 (Center for Disease Control [CDC], 2008; The Alliance for Safe Children, 2012; SafeKids, 2012). and drowning rates among that age group continue to rise, even as the drowning rates of older children (ages 5-18) are beginning to drop, albeit slowly.

Drowning rates remain depressingly stable, suggesting that existing lessons about water safety are either not internalized or are not effective in the long-term. Young children need to be targeted effectively, with an end goal of lasting, internalized behavioral change, if drowning rates are to drop permanently, not just among children but across all age groups. In order to target young children effectively we must emphasize the appropriate skills in awareness and education programs, focusing on layering skills as children mature, but always delivering the messages positively, repetitively, and age-appropriately. If children are taught from birth how to relate to the water safely and joyously, they will learn to self-regulate their behavior around water - the same way they learn to cross the street safely, to navigate other potentially dangerous situations (e.g., fire, strangers), and to follow societal rules. Only then, if attitudes and behaviors towards water are changed and internalized, will drowning rates drop permanently. We live in a multi-cultural world that is changing at an unprecedented pace, because of technology and globalization. Cultural considerations must be sensitively addressed with local programs developed or adapted to meet specific geographic, socio-economic and gender realities. Although programs should fit local needs in terms of communication strategies and cultural sensitivity, the messages around water must be more encompassing and global in their scope if children are to navigate water safely throughout their lifetime. A global strategy, including one global symbol, must be associated with water safety both as a reflection of the global nature of water and as the most efficient and effective mechanism for delivering information. Warning a child of the dangers in his or her own backyard may keep him safe in that environment, but it won’t keep them safe when they venture off their home turf, even if it is only to a neighbor’s house. Water is as multi-dimensional as our society and requires a global strategy and local solutions. Purely local solutions will only solve local problems and only on a short-term basis. Conversely, having only a global strategy does not acknowledge the intricacies of cultural and geographic realities. Unless we pursue a global strategy of teaching all children how to relate safely to all types of water, we are only putting bandages on the problem, and we know that bandages have a tendency to fall off in water. Water is a global force and it requires a global symbol that encompasses all types of water and is internationally recognized in a positive and collaborative way. Jabari® is designed to be a global symbol, similar to the red ribbon for AIDS or the Olympic rings that symbolize healthy competition in a spirit of global unity. Jabari® is a lion cub who has a broad appeal across cultures with a look that is designed to appeal specifically to young children. Recent research indicates that having a whimsical and child-like visual prompt can also result in greater adherence to rules and appropriate behavior in adults as well as children (Gino & Desai, 2011). Jabari® is well positioned to be the global face of water safety for children, and adults. This article examines why and how we should target very young children to positively and permanently influence their behavior around water. The use of characters and stories as an effective medium for reaching children is explored, as is the advantage of using culturally neutral, yet appealing, characters, names and settings. The importance of using one global character (Jabari®) that can bridge the gap between local solutions that are culturally-sensitive and a global strategy to end childhood drowning is addressed with an emphasis on using consistent and age-appropriate layered messaging for both economic and communication effectiveness. Finally, new research regarding effective visual prompts is explored in the context of using Jabari®. Therefore, the aim of this article is to explain why we need to target young

children, using a character, with a goal of lasting, internalized behavioral change, in order to end childhood drowning permanently.

Development of Jabari® Jabari® was created to teach children to be the key that unlocks the centuries-old problem of drowning, a tool to change attitudes and actions related to water safety so that they become internalized and are naturally passed on from parent to child. There are other characters and programs in use, but none were developed to be a global symbol. Let us examine why and how Jabari® was developed.

Target audience In general, children under 5 years of age have the highest drowning mortality rates worldwide (World Health Organization, 2010), yet many programs focus on barriers to keep young children from the water, supervision, or teaching swimming to school-aged children (Scarr, et al., 2008; CDC, 2012). For years programs targeting young children have emphasized the need to keep young children away from the water, with the child as the uncontrollable antagonist (NDPA, 2011). The parent is given the almost impossible task of monitoring their child at every minute with dire warnings of the fatal results resulting from non-compliance. We have failed to give children of all ages a healthy frame of reference about how and why to act safely around water and we have issued unrealistic and frightening warnings to parents. The current strategy of avoidance and fear will not create sustainable change or a permanent drop in drowning rates, and has, quite possibly, increased the danger to our children. One child drowns every minute©. We must change how we relate to the water, permanently. We must engage very young children. We can’t keep waiting until it is too late. Jabari® is designed to reach young children, ages 1-10, but focuses primarily on the age group at greatest risk for drowning, children ages 4 and under. (CDC, 2008; SafeKids, 2012; The Alliance for Safe Children, 2012). We don’t credit a child’s ability to learn and self-regulate their behavior, and yet the value in teaching young children positively and proactively has been proven time and again. (Diefendorf & Goode, 2005). Children are much smarter than we give them credit for and, with time, can learn to control their behavior, particularly if they have examples of, and reinforcement of, pro-social behavior (Wilson, 2008). We teach our children to share, to ‘use their words’, to feed themselves, to speak, to cross the street safely, to ride a bike, and numerous other skills. We instinctively understand that social and physical skills are attained only through repetition, patience and positive reminders, yet we do not extend that understanding to water. We accept that young children have not been socialized (often to our utter embarrassment), but it rarely occurs to parents to teach ‘water etiquette’. We show them how much fun water can be, yet we are surprised when they seek out water on their own, sometimes with fatal results. We supervise them more closely in the playground sandbox than we do in the pool because ‘the lifeguard is watching’, or, more accurately, we don’t understand the dangers inherent in water because we ourselves have not been taught effectively. Throwing sand hurts eyes, but holding another child under water or going out of your depth kills. We must teach our children effectively so that they know how to teach their children. Teaching children to relate safely to the water in a way that internalizes lasting behavioral change is the only way of ending drowning permanently. We must target children not only because of the high level of risk but also because children are more malleable and open to new concepts. If we teach children how to relate to the water safely they are most likely to internalize

and permanently change their behavior - just as buckling your seatbelt has become second nature in a generation. Unless the goal is sustainable, internalized change in our attitudes toward water that future generations will pass on to their children, drowning rates will remain stable or increase. Finally, the most important point is joy! Children are, and should be, about joy, and water can be the source of enormous joy, if you know how to be safe. We need to acknowledge the joy while teaching children to be safe, and what better way than through characters that show that you can be safe, while you have fun.

Reasons for using a character Children respond to character. Young children have rich imaginations that allow them to become characters that they like. It allows them to ‘try on’ different personas and help them navigate difficult situations, to make sense of the world. For example, a 3-year old might be afraid of the dark, but Spiderman (in his web-strewn jammies) is brave enough to sleep with just a nightlight. Similarly, a 2-year old may have trouble always playing well with other children, but Cinderella is always gracious. And, as I learned from my daughter, Princess Aurora, some days wearing a tiara just makes everything better.

Appealing to parents It is not sufficient that Jabari® appeal to children, parents must have a stake in making the character available to their child. Jabari® was born out of many years of combined expertise, but also developed by mothers, which is important. Mothers are the end-users and often the holders of the purse. They see what their children respond to and what languishes in the toy basket. They buy the well-meaning books that will enrich their child or teach them to go potty that never voluntarily get cracked open. They also know which books have been memorized by joyful repetition. They understand that bedtime is easier when the Sleeping Beauty nightgown is clean. Mothers know what toy is so well-loved that they will move heaven and earth and commit violence to keep that item intact rather than face the total emotional meltdown of their child. Given this, the first consideration was creating a character that would appeal to children, that a child might choose even when faced with entire Toys R Us or Hamley’s toy department, but also one a parent would find appealing.

Using stories to teach Storytelling, whether oral or written, is a time-honored and effective method of imparting information and reinforcing cultural norms across all cultures. (Koki, 1998; Ricketts, et al., 2010) Children respond to stories when they imagine themselves in the story. Stories help children make sense of their environment and have positive learning connotations as they listen to a loved and respected adult read to them. (Koki, 1998; Pound, 2008) Literacy, in and of itself, is an added benefit.

Teaching water safety using a non-aquatic animal Animals are neutral, devoid of racial or socio-economic identifying characteristics, and a source of great fascination for young children, which makes them an ideal role-model for all children. Jabari® provides a positive role model that appeals directly to young children in appearance as well as action. He is a whimsical and engaging character professionally designed and rendered in soft water colors to be as culturally neutral and universally appealing as possible.

He is not a ‘dumbed-down’ adult character in appearance or action, he visually embodies warmth, joy and security. We looked for an animal that would have a strong emotional appeal and high level of recognition for children across as many cultures as possible. Jabari® is a lion cub. Lions are universally recognized as the king of the jungle, the very top of the animal kingdom food chain, exhibiting desirable characteristics of bravery and strength. Lions are also not an animal normally associated with the water. But, as my then 7-year old child pointed out, “why would you use an animal that already knows how to swim when kids don’t?” We listened to our children. Jabari® is also a neutral character. He was created solely to be the global face of water safety and is not associated with any one child, one organization, or with any tragedy. Jabari® is a clean slate for introducing an innovative concept - ending childhood drowning by reaching young children directly and using joy to elicit sustainable, internalized behavioral change.

Allowing children to recognize themselves in the characters Children want to be brave, the leader and do the right thing, but that is usually something they aspire to, not how they are in real life, and they know it. Because of that, Jabari’s® band of friends encompasses a range of personalities that many children can relate to. They can identify with distracted Ding© (DING - porcupine) or twirly-girly Awande© (a-WAN-day - gazelle). They may be fearless like Tatenda© (ta-TEN-da - warthog) or a bit timid about new things like Tapiwa© (tah-PEE-wah - leopard). Gugu© (goo-goo - monkey) always seems to be getting into light-hearted mischief while Mudiwa© (MOO-dee-wah - zebra) and Bambani© (BAM-bah-nee - elephant) are going with the flow and following the crowd. Jabulani© (JAH-boo-la-nee - cheetah) is listening, as long as he’s got that ball attached to his feet or hands, it helps him think. Positive adult role models are embedded in the cast of characters as well. Abu© (lion) is Jabari’s® father, helping to teach Jabari® and the others about water safety while looking strong, loving, and secure in his public safety uniform. Mr. Anokosha© (hippopotamus), the lifeguard, is there to protect the children. He may seem a bit intimidating with his whistle, but there is no one you’d like near you more when you are in the water, given his reputation. Finally, Mrs. Mufundisi© (MOO-fun-dee-see - giraffe) is a teacher - nurturing, a bit motherly, but rockin’ the pink hoof-nail polish. Jabari® and friends are also a labor of love. The children in the story, aside from the primary role model, Jabari®, are inspired by our own children. Apart from the emotional tie, this has resulted in a cast of characters who feel well-loved, despite their idiosyncrasies, something that all children, and their parents, can relate to positively. The marriage of whimsical, child- centered characters and hard academic early childhood education theory is critical to Jabari’s® becoming a respected and influential global symbol for water safety.

The importance of a name African names were selected because the animals are from Africa, and children are rather logical about things like that, but the names were also chosen to be unique, memorable, and fun for children to say, regardless of their cultural heritage or primary language. For example, Jabari® is the Swahili word for “brave”, and although all children would like to be brave, sometimes they just need some help learning how to be brave and do the right thing. It is important to send the message to children that no matter what sort of personality you have, you can become brave and do the right thing like Jabari®, in a positive and affirming way. It’s a

shorter leap to be Jabari® when you see that Gugu© can do it too. Like Jabari, the other characters’ names were all pulled from a range of African languages with very specific meanings associated with each character, in keeping with African tradition of assigning attributes through a name. For example, Abu© is the word for ‘father’. Mufundisi© means ‘teacher’ and Anokosha© means ‘he is important’. The remaining meanings are at the end of this article and were chosen by the child each character represents (Table 1).

Table 1: Glossary of character names.

Character Face




Meaning of the Name

Character Face Name Pronunciation Animal Meaning of the Name Mrs. Mufundisi MOO -fun-dee- see giraffe Shona
Character Face Name Pronunciation Animal Meaning of the Name Mrs. Mufundisi MOO -fun-dee- see giraffe Shona
Character Face Name Pronunciation Animal Meaning of the Name Mrs. Mufundisi MOO -fun-dee- see giraffe Shona
Character Face Name Pronunciation Animal Meaning of the Name Mrs. Mufundisi MOO -fun-dee- see giraffe Shona
Character Face Name Pronunciation Animal Meaning of the Name Mrs. Mufundisi MOO -fun-dee- see giraffe Shona

Mrs. Mufundisi

MOO-fun-dee-see giraffe

Shona word for ‘teacher’



lion cub

Swahili word for ‘brave’




Short Dingani (din-GA-ni) Ndebele for ‘what are you looking for’



vervet monkey

Short for Gugulethu (goo- goo-LETH-oo) Ndebele for ‘our precious one’



Thomson’s gazelle Ndebele for ‘may love or kindness grow’




Shona for ‘we are thankful’

Character Face




Meaning of the Name

Bambani BAM-bah-nee ele phant short for




short for




nee) Ndebele for



Tapiwa tah - PEE - wah leopard Shona for ‘we have been given’




Shona for ‘we have been given’




Ndebele for



Mr. Anokosha AH -no-kosh-a hippopatamus Shona for ‘he is important’

Mr. Anokosha



Shona for ‘he is important’

Mudiwa MOO -dee- wah zebra Shona for ‘my darling’




Shona for ‘my darling’



lion cub

Shona for ‘my darling’ Abu AH -boo lion cub Swahili word for ‘father’ Each name that

Swahili word for ‘father’

Each name that was given to a hero in this book was not considered only in terms of its meaning but also phonemically. A speech therapist who works with young children, made the following comments, “Taking into account that culturally different names are always somewhat

more challenging for speakers than familiar ones, these names were chosen well. For the most part, the selected names had earlier developing phonemes (i.e., /t, d, p, b, k, g, f, v, w/). The more phonemically challenging names for young children would be Mr. Anokosha©, Jabari® and Jabulani© (as /j, sh, l, r/ and /s-blends/ can be later developing sounds). The African names have multiple syllables, which can also be challenging for young ones, but phonemically, those were also well-chosen. Considering the target audience, this book is mostly going to be presented to small children by an adult. Therefore, correct pronunciations will be modeled for them, and even if they have trouble articulating the names themselves, the message will not be lost. As a huge fan of "CuRious GeoRGe" (whose name is difficult for many children to articulate), I obviously believe that there is something to be said for auditory bombardment and modeling as a form of teaching correct pronunciation.” (Amy McCarthy, personal communication on June 6, 2011)

Creating an appropriate setting Jabari’s settings were designed to correspond with the socio-economic status of the society where the children that will read the book live because it is important to show environments that are familiar and statistically the areas of greatest immediate danger to children in those countries. Specifically, the setting in the book ‘Jabari Makes A Splash’©, will be more familiar to children in high-income nations. The initial story takes place in a preschool classroom with a field trip to a local swimming pool. In high-income countries, children aged 1-5 years old drown most often in swimming pools and many children attend preschool or day care of some description. References are also made to bathtubs (where babies aged birth - 1 year are most likely to drown) and rivers and lakes (the greatest danger for children ages 6-12; Brenner et al., 2003).Begin raising awareness first where the statistics showed the greatest danger lay, but it is also important to discuss all the other places water exists. On the other hand, for low-income countries, a second book will be produced that addresses the water hazards and cultural markers associated with those areas. The look and feel of the characters will remain consistent, but the setting and the need for safety around open water, drainage ditches, rice paddies, wells and buckets will be emphasized in the illustrations and messages. The intention is to expand Jabari® globally across a range of media and to show Jabari® successfully navigating all the places water can exist, an ideal tool for introducing and reinforcing water safety, at home and around the different geographies and cultures that children will experience as they grow. It is crucial that children understand that water, in all it’s forms and locations, requires care and respect. Any child who does not understand that the Pacific Ocean is very different from the local pool is an accident waiting to happen. Educationally, Jabari’s® global range provides an excellent platform for children to learn about geography and other cultures. Again, the goal is positive, lasting behavioral change related to all water, not just the water in a child’s immediate environment.

Developing a layered message The first message for young children is “never go near water without an adult”, but in order for Jabari® to be successful, the water safety messages need to be positive, age-appropriate and repetitive, and the message needs to be built upon, layered, as children age. Children need to hear the messages from different sources, across a range of media to reinforce the messages. Careful thought needs to be given to developing a comprehensive campaign, from birth through the teenage years, layering the messages to add on new information as children’s physical and cognitive skills advance. You begin by telling your infant in the bathtub, “I’ll never leave you

alone near water” as you splash their tummy. Once they are mobile, you say “never go near water without a grownup”. As they become school age you may change to “always tell me when you are going near water” (and then watch them!), which will evolve into the teenage rule, “swim with a buddy”. The second message that comes out of the statement, “One child drowns every minute.”©”is a global campaign based on the tagline “Make the Minute Matter”©. A positive and comprehensive campaign that shows all the good things that you can do in a minute (a hug, play ball with your child,, start the meal cooking) and then show the actions that will keep a child safe in the water that will be the difference between life and death in that one minute. It is crucial that a global campaign in keeping with the global strategy to end childhood drowning is developed that brings accessible and positive solutions down to the most local of levels, what a parent or caregiver can do to help their child. Plans are in place to pursue funding to develop the full educational program, a ‘Jabari® in a box’ - one that encompasses disciplines in child development, child psychology and education and that is tested for effectiveness - measurable, sustainable behavioral change delivered in a cost-effective manner.

The importance of appearance Young children, with their rich inner lives, should not be terrified, bullied or humiliated into positive behavior. In order to reach young children effectively, children need to be entertained at their level. The characters were rendered in whimsical and inviting water colors that are engaging, happy, fun, and JOY! The messages are designed to appeal directly to children, with educating parents and caregivers as an important secondary goal. Mr. Rogers, a brilliant innovator in children’s entertainment and education, had it right when he addressed the U.S. Senate many years ago saying that “we must entertain and educate children on their level, not ours, with an understanding of, and sensitivity for, how children really think and process information” (Sullivan, 2011).

Creating characters with a broad cultural appeal Particular attention was given to having broad cultural appeal for Jabari® and his band of friends. Input from women who have lived on 3 continents in 5 diverse cultures was taken into account. The basic nature of children transcends cultures and continents, but the characters are as culturally-neutral as possible. Potentially divisive identifying information such as skin color and hair color are neutralized by using animals. Animals were selected which have a broad appeal and high level of recognition globally, as well as positive personality traits associated with the animals (e.g., brave lion, playful monkey, athletic cheetah). Jabari® will also travel, to show children all the different places where water exists, and all the different ways that water can be contained. In addition to being an amazing way of incorporating social studies and geography into a lasting life lesson, this is important because water is not the same in different places. A bathtub is different from a drainage ditch, just as a pool is different from an ocean and a river is different from an ocean. Water varies in temperature and it varies in temperament. Lessons about water safety must be directly applicable to children demographically utilizing statistics on drowning to teach them of immediate dangers (e.g. emphasizing pool safety to young children in California or safety around rice paddies in China), but it is critical that we teach children how to navigate all water safely by exposing them to a wide range of situations in a safe and positive manner.

Addressing economic and marketing realities It is especially important in today’s economic climate to be cognizant of limited financial resources and the need to maximize impact of public health initiatives in a manner that is cost- effective, measurable, and sustainable. It is key that there be one global symbol. First, duplication of effort and a plethora of copy-cat symbols only confuse the public. The red ribbon for AIDS awareness is a perfect example. It was such a success that the pink ribbon for breast cancer soon followed, which was followed by a rainbow of copy-cat symbols and has become completely diluted. Only people intimately involved with various causes can identify their color ribbon correctly. Brilliantly, the AIDS marketing people moved on and created their (RED) campaign. Second, one global symbol is more cost-effective. Jabari® has already been developed using sound early childhood education principles married with a strong understanding of social marketing and behavioral change. A concerted push with one global program, adapted locally, provides a high-impact, low-cost positive, media-friendly solution that appeals to both children and adults makes sense from a financial perspective and from the perspective of achieving sustainable behavioral change. Towards this end, developing and executing the program requires a strong business discipline of measuring results and assessing economic and behavioral impact. Suggested action steps are given below in Table 2.

Table 2: Suggested action steps for measuring results and assessing the economic and behavioral impact of Jabari.

1. Set baseline for measurement, including history, if available.

Current number of drownings.

Current number of hospital admissions.

Current number of emergency room visits for drowning.

Current number of 911 call-outs for drowning not requiring hospitalization.

Existence of any other programs in the area (local, national) and how they reach the target audience.

2. Assess the most common risk factors (private pools, public pools, open water, bathtubs)

3. Identify places to reach the target audience.

Community day care



Emergency room doctors and nurses

New mothers (at hospital)


Facilities offering water safety or swimming lessons targeted at young children

Recreation facilities offering childcare to young children while parents use the facilities Scouting, Boys and Girls Clubs, Indian Guides/Princesses

Library reading hour


Assess target audience.

Literacy levels

Language fluency

Familiarity with local water risk factors

Openness to change

Socio-economic or cultural attitudes towards water

5. Develop program and best way to deliver program.

Pediatrician ‘prescription’ for water safety or swimming lessons.

Include ‘Jabari Makes A Splash’ into places identified to best reach target audience

(pediatrician offices, new mother’s bags at hospital, preschools, day care centers, etc). Work with facilities to develop programs that integrate water safety, with Jabari, into existing

programs and curriculums.

Visual prompts - Jabari face available to put on pool gates, door to back yard, height

regulations on water slides and pools, sign for bathroom (bathtub safety).

Work with local media to raise awareness of meaning of Jabari sign and what parents and caregivers can do to make their child safer in the water, positively.

Leverage social media resources.

6. Identify funding sources.

Literacy programs.

State and federal funding for child safety initiatives.

Early childhood education grants to incorporate Jabari into lessons on geography and culture.

Environmental groups to raise awareness in children about the importance of ‘safer’ water - being in and around water.

Private foundations that target health and safety, children, literacy or water safety.

7. Develop follow-up protocol for measuring effectiveness of programs and create database for gathering statistics.

8. Assess success of initiatives and adjust programs where necessary. Eliminate initiatives

which have a low level of success.

9. Identify success stories and determine which aspects contributed to success.

10. Publicize success stories relentlessly.

Reaching children while positively influencing adults Exciting new research posits a “return to innocence effect,” in which childhood cues can make people more honest, and businesses more charitable. (Gino & Desai, 2011) Sreedhari Desai, who just left Harvard’s Safra Center for Business Ethics to teach at the University of Northern Carolina and Francesca Gino from the Harvard Business School believe this might be the case. The research is new but has exciting implications in ending drowning. If there is a sign with Jabari’s® face at the beach, pool, would parents and caregivers be more likely to remember

and act upon basic water safety rules such as supervision? Would the presence of a Jabari® bath toy remind parents to stay in the room while children are in the bath? What about a Jabari® sign on the outside of a pool gate reminding children not to go into the pool area without an adult? The research has exciting implications for addressing a serious public health issue in a positive and lasting manner (Gino & Desai, 2011).


In general, children under 5 years of age have the highest drowning mortality rates worldwide,

yet this audience is virtually ignored in traditional drowning prevention programs. We must target young children using characters and stories that help them harness their natural joy, and the joy derived from water, in a way that elicits sustainable, internalized behavioral change. Water is the most global element, excepting oxygen. A global element requires a global character supported by a global strategy, with the message adapted for local cultures. Finally, if drowning rates are to drop permanently, a rigorous business discipline must be applied to the issue that:

encompasses stringent statistical analysis; produces financially viable programs that are measurable and cost-effective; and utilizes proven theories of sustainable and measurable internalized behavioral and social change.


A tribute is paid to the creative talents that helped give birth to Jabari®, Kerry Grier, Rochelle

Moulton (, and Donna Nettis (


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