National

Son's drowning death leads to Seattle mom starting nonprofit to promote water safety

SEATTLE — A Seattle mom who lost her 3-year-old son in a drowning incident has now established a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through water safety education, legislation and increasing equitable access to swimming lessons.

Chezik Tsunoda created "No More Under" to increase awareness about drowning dangers and to offer access to swim lessons after her son Yori Tsunoda died in 2018.

In 2018, Tsunoda took Yori on a playdate with someone they knew from the preschool he attended, who happened to have a pool in their backyard. When they got to the pool, she said everybody just jumped in.

Yori slipped beneath the surface of the pool, the mom told ABC News. Tsunoda said that kids and adults were all around the pool when they noticed Yori floating face down. He was unresponsive when pulled out of the water, but first responders were able to revive him with CPR and transfer him to Seattle Children's Hospital where medics pronounced him dead.

According to Dr. Ben Hoffman, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 years old. He also said drowning is 100% preventable.

Wanting to bring awareness to water safety and stop needless drownings, Tsunoda founded No More Under in 2019, a year after Yori died.

"We are really dedicated to saving lives through education, legislation and providing access and equity in aquatics," Tsunoda said. "We’re out handing out water watcher badges, stickers and coloring books that just remind everyone to be safe."

The organization has been providing swim lessons for the last three years in partnership with YMCAs and local city pools, Tsunoda said, teaching more than 5,000 lessons.

"If you talk about drowning, people turn their heads," Tsunoda said. "Imagine if we normalized and took some of the shame away from this and really had some understanding of what we can do to save all of these lives. I feel like Yori is changing the world."

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