NAPLES, Fla. - Lifejackets have been placed at a Collier County park to help prevent children from drowning. The life vests were put there through a new program " Kids don't float - give them something that does."
They're yours to borrow at Sugden Park at no cost. "You need adult supervision, you need barriers in place to prevent children's access to the water and then its always good to have a certified coast guard lifejacket if your child is in the water and unsure of their swimming skills" says Dr. Charles Vedder, an area pediatrician.
The lifejacket loaner program was launched by the NCH Health & Children's Coalition in response to a drowning at the park last year. Dr. Vedder says, "this is a true testament of the communities rallying around just a terrible tragedy."
In June 2013, 2 year old Daniella Pontoja was found face down in the water. She later died at the hospital. "We're here today to tell Daniella's family and everyone that we don't want to see this happen again" says Dr. Vedder.
Paul Demello lost his twin boys 4 years ago. He says both toddlers drowned in a residential swimming pool.
"I feel like my boys gave me a job and I'm just doing the best i can" says Demello. The grieving father says by sharing his tragic story he is creating awareness and educating others.
Demello hopes people take advantage of the life jackets. He says, "I know it must be uncomfortable for the children or a hassle for the families, but you just don't know you just don't know."
By next week the lifejacket loaner program will be at four other Collier County sites. They include Clam Pass, Vanderbilt Beach and 2 in Marco Island.
Dr. Vedder hopes other counties will follow their lead.