It seems only appropriate in our Dream Facilities Issue that I share the fruition of a dream at Aquatics International.
That dream was to do a series that would not only shine a spotlight on the underreported issue of minority drowning, but also serve as the definitive source of information about the scope of the problem — and, importantly, what the industry can do about it.
From the moment I presented the idea, writer Shabnam Mogharabi recognized this was no ordinary article. With the passion of a revolutionary, she attacked the issue, contacting more than 50 aquatics experts and combing through reams of government data. Among other points, the series revealed that black children are nearly three times more likely to drown than white children.
Upon its publication in the October and November/December 2005 issues, readers responded with almost as much fervor as Shabnam put into the series. In fact, few articles have evoked a more passionate response. I was particularly proud of the numerous letters and offers of help.
Now the series is garnering renewed attention in the mainstream media. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Public Radio and a host of other media outlets have picked up the story and spread the word about this important issue to thousands of others.
While Aquatics International doesn’t always get credit in these reports, the magazine and the series has been receiving plenty of it from our peers.
Most recently, we learned the series and Shabnam will win the American Society of Business Publication Editors’ highest honor: the Stephen Barr Award. Unlike other ASBPE awards, it recognizes individual writing from among the best entries in all editorial feature categories, especially work that reflects the qualities of inventiveness, insight, balance, depth of investigation and impact on readers. In addition, the series will win a gold award from the ASBPE for best series in its category. And it recently won a Maggie award from the Western Publications Association for best series/trade.
Winning awards is gratifying, to be sure, but it’s more gratifying to know the series’ message about the need to make swimming accessible for people of all races and ethnicities is reaching aquatics professionals and beyond.
Most importantly, the awards are a heartening touchstone that with the minority drowning series, our Dream Facilities Issue and every article we produce, we are providing the information aquatics professionals need to run the best facilities possible — and make dreams of their own come true.