H.B. NO.



















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that drowning is a tragic but preventable source of injury and death in the State, especially among children.  Specifically, the department of health has found that drowning was the leading cause of injury‑related mortality for Hawaii's children between 2014 and 2018.  In fact, more children died by drowning than in motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents combined.

     The legislature also finds that although visitors made up a slight majority of the fatal drownings that occurred in the State between 2014 and 2018, an alarmingly large proportion of fatal child drownings--ninety-six per cent--were among resident children.  During the same period, there were an annual average of seventy non-fatal child drowning incidents attended by emergency medical services.  Although individuals who experience non-fatal drowning incidents escape with their lives, some are left with severe brain damage.  Those individuals may face long‑term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, or permanent losses of basic functions, a disorder often referred to as a persistent vegetative state.  Given the potential for death or severe long-term injuries, the State must prioritize the prevention of fatal and non-fatal drownings.

     The legislature further finds that most drowning deaths could be prevented through deliberate government action.  Specifically, the International Life Saving Federation's Position Statement for Swimming and Safety Education recommends that everyone have access to training in water safety, personal survival, and water rescue.  Ideally, this training should commence at a young age and should be available regardless of ability and background.  In addition, the International Life Saving Federation recommends that knowledge and understanding of water environments and their associated hazards should be taught to everyone at the earliest possible age.

     Despite these recommendations, the legislature finds that many of Hawaii's youth do not have the opportunity to receive aquatic safety instruction.  Less than ten per cent of public and public charter elementary schools integrate aquatic safety education into their physical education curriculums.  Outside of schools, municipal aquatic safety programs lack the resources to meet public demand, and the cost of obtaining private lessons is often cost-prohibitive for many local families.

     As a result, many children are inadequately prepared for water-related emergencies.  An assessment of Hawaii students conducted by the Hawaii Aquatics Academy during the 2018-2019 school year found that only thirty-one per cent of participating students could swim for twenty-five yards, only twelve per cent could float for thirty seconds, and only thirteen per cent could tread water for sixty seconds.

     The legislature finds that all children should be provided equal access to standards-based aquatic safety education programs.  To achieve this, aquatic safety education should be integrated into the health and physical education curriculums of public schools.  Providing proper training in water safety, personal survival, and water rescue will help to ensure that the State's youth, especially those from low- and moderate-income communities, know how to avoid and recover from hazardous aquatic situations.  This would also be consistent with the department of health's Hawaii Injury Prevention Plan 2018-2023, which aims to decrease the incidence of drownings in the State.

     Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to appropriate moneys to the department of education to contract with a qualified nonprofit organization to establish an aquatic safety education program for elementary school students.

     SECTION 2.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $1,000,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2023-2024 for the department of education to contract with a qualified nonprofit organization, pursuant to chapter 103D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to establish an aquatic safety education program, which shall be offered to elementary school students during regular school hours.

     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of education for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2023.








Report Title:

DOE; Aquatic Safety Education; Appropriation



Appropriates moneys for the Department of Education to contract with a qualified nonprofit organization to establish an aquatic safety education program for elementary school students.




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