Join us as we bring our Under the Nile community up to date on the extraordinary work the Meow Meow Foundation is doing!
When I first met Doug and Elena in 2019 and heard their heartbreaking story of how their daughter Roxie died in a preventable drowning, I knew I had to be a part of their journey to make sure this didn’t happen to any other child. It just so happens that Roxie’s BFF was one of our Scrappy Cats. And so our journey together began....
2020 was by no means ordinary, but the extraordinary work that the Meow Meow foundation does to help eliminate preventable childhood drowning deaths still pushes forward.
I had a chance to ask Doug and Elena about their success since starting the MMF as well as a few questions I know as a parent/grandparent we would want to know about preparing for camp, water parks or even an outing to the community pool this coming summer...
What headway have you made in your first year of starting the Meow Meow Foundation in regards to getting water safety legislation passed in camps?
Since launching our Foundation in October of 2019, MMF has formed numerous strategic partnerships with public and private stakeholders. In fact, rarely does a week go by without an important meeting to advance our water and camp safety initiatives.
Right now, we are working with California Assemblyman Holden, the California Department of Education, Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Michael Phelps Foundation on a bill to establish water safety policies in schools which will impact millions of children. MMF is also introducing a perennial resolution — approved by the California government — that will be known as "Roxie’s Drowning Prevention Month." Every May, Californians will roll out recreational and educational events to keep children water-safe. All of our statewide efforts are being developed so that they may be adopted by the federal government in the near future. We work for children coast-to-coast. That’s why we are also presenting at the National Water Safety Conference in March.
Last year you introduced legislation titled “SB 955 The Roxie Rules Act”. Can you tell us a little about this legislation and how our Under the Nile Community can give their support in getting The Roxie Rules Act passed?
After more than a year of fighting day and night to deliver critical protections for millions of children who attend thousands of California camps, MMF withdrew the Roxie Rules Act. Unfortunately, lobbyists and insiders influenced legislators to pressure MMF to make concessions that would not have afforded children the protections they deserve. MMF is now working directly with Los Angeles County, the most populous in the country, to form a pilot program for health and safety measures at camps that will impact over 1 million children. MMF plans to expand this countywide program to the state, and then ultimately to the federal government to ensure children are safe at camps in every state of our nation.
How can parents check to make sure the camps they send their kids to are licensed and have qualified staff?
We have learned the grim reality - serious injuries and abuses occur at day and overnight camps throughout the nation every year. Millions of children attend thousands of camps that may not licensed, regulated or inspected. As a start, parents should check licensing requirements with their local government (health departments or child care licensing boards). But that is not enough. Parents must do their own due diligence. MMF has posted a list of questions parents should ask before sending their precious cargo off to camp. Parents often rely upon the "seal of approval" by way American Camp Association accreditation. However, the ACA requires camps to meet just 18 percent of its standards and practices to receive accreditation and inspects camps every 3-5 years. Both of these precedents are shockingly meager and unacceptable. Parents should be wary of reliance upon this certifying organization that has NO enforcement or regulatory authority. We must be our own advocates to ensure our children are safe.
Can you recommend any books or resources to parents that will better prepare them and their children for a safe summer camp experience?
MMF has formed a strategic partnership with Dr. Christopher Thurber and highly recommends his Summer Camp Handbook which offers excellent advice about choosing camps, packing essential camp gear, and emotionally preparing your child (as well as yourself) for camp season..
Check out Supermeow visiting Nina here
SuperMeow has been making socially distanced and virtual visits to children who are in various stages of need during the pandemic, suffering from isolation. When it is safe to do so, SuperMeow will visit children who have sustained catastrophic injuries in drowning related accidents and help advance MMF's water safety objectives during speaking engagements and other public appearances.
Drowning prevention is heavy subject matter. SuperMeow helps us to deliver our message in a warm, approachable and joyful manner. Most importantly, SuperMeow reminds all children that they have superpowers, just like Roxie. Her manta of "Happy, Funny, Nice" resides in our hearts and gives us the strength to ensure other children do not suffer her fate.
MMF is so very fortunate to have partnered with UTN to share our important mission and honor our beautiful girl. Roxie and her "Meow Meow" Scrappy Cat were inseparable. Roxie's trusty companion gave her the courage to weather doctor's visits, spooky cartoons and even terrible temper tantrums. In the end, Meow Meow couldn’t save Roxie from her greatest challenge — a preventable drowning death. But Meow Meow now helps comfort US as we try our best to balance immeasurable grief with a future of advocacy and change. We love you, Meow Meow and UTN. Just like Roxie did.
We want to thank Doug and Elena for the amazing work they are doing to keep our children safe! We will continuing to support your cause and contribute to the amazing work you are doing to help keep our children safe.
Learn more about the organization here.