Heather Broussard will never forget the day she lost her little girl Mazie.
The day started like any other and ended with Mazie drowning in the family pool.
"Within a short amount of time she disappeared," Broussard recounted the events of that day. "I was in the kitchen, and she was in the other room. I couldn't hear her anymore and started looking around the house because I thought she went into another room to find me. I found her outside...this was all within minutes. She fought hard at Women's and Children's, but she didn't make it."
Two year later, the mom of four took her pain and channeled it into helping others avoid the same tragedy she endured.
"We started Mazie's Mission to not only honor her and bring purpose to our pain but to save the lives of other children younger and older than Mazie," Broussard said. "We want to provide resources to families, so they have access to swim lessons, know the layers of protection, all of the drowning prevention tips--that's the message we need to get out and share with the community."
Dr. Tina Stefanski, director for the Louisiana Department of Health Region 4, said they have been working for the past several weeks to figure out how to get the message out about drowning as we go into the summer months.
Stefanski said Heather's name and Mazie's Mission kept coming up.
"We would hear about Mazie's Mission from other community partners so that's how we connected with Heather," Stefanski said. "It's incredible, she and her family are brave and caring enough to share their story in hopes of saving other children's lives."
Stefanski said drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in the nation for children between the ages of one and four. Louisiana has the highest rate of drowning in that age group.
"When an infant or child is in or around water someone needs to be designated to watch that child," Stefanski said. "Don't let cell phones or conversations with others distract you. You are that child's designated watcher. We see this happen over and over again where people get distracted, children or fast, and drownings or quiet and quick."
Stefanski added that because most drownings happen in a person's backyard, making sure barriers are in place when someone is not actively using the pool is a must.
"The fence is really supposed to be separating the house from the pool and the house from the pool. Teach children to swim so they have those skills to survive."
Which is something Broussard is working on, bringing a certified Infant Swimming Resource instructor to our region.
"We've already started the process and have a swim instructor who is committed to go through the certification," Broussard said. "We've already gotten the approval from ISR to get her trained and certified here. By the end of the year, we should be able to offer lessons here in Lafayette."
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