Great Strides for Children, a Jacksonville-based non-profit has launched a campaign to help combat the risk of drowning for children with Autism and other special needs.  Beginning Thursday, April 29th at 9am, the organization will make anti-drowning safety kits available to families of children with Autism and other special needs at their 3 locations in the greater Jacksonville area.

These kits will include information and safety tips on drowning prevention, door alarms to prevent wandering and wearable safety cards to designate an adult “water watcher” while children are swimming.  In addition to the safety kits, a limited number of pool alarms will be distributed.

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Great Strides for Children has also purchased lifejackets which can be borrowed for special events.  Currently two organizations, and the Wounded Warrior project have already signed up to use them.  The organization is also currently exploring the possibility of providing swim lessons to children with special needs utilizing pediatric therapists and therapy pools owned by H2 Health.

Dr. Jon Edenfield, Executive Director of Great Strides Rehabilitation Inc. and founder of the non-profit said that his employees felt the need to do something after having experienced firsthand the grief of two families of children with Autism who drowned or nearly drowned.

Drowning is the number one cause of death for children and adults with autism. Wandering is very common in children with Autism. Studies show that wandering in children with Autism does not stem from inattentive parenting”.  Wandering along with the fact that many children with Autism are naturally drawn to water leads to a high risk of drowning.  This highlights the need for increased education on drowning prevention for families.

Families can call 904-886-3228 to reserve an anti-drowning safety kit.  Pick up locations are listed on

For more information or to donate to the Great Strides Special Needs Opportunity Fund, please visit their website,

Quote: Dr. Jon Edenfield, Executive Director of Great Strides Rehabilitation which provides therapy services to the children said, If, this project can help reduce the risk of drowning for even one family it will be a success.

Additional information:

  • Great Strides Rehabilitation Inc. is a pediatric rehabilitation facility that specializes in providing comprehensive therapy and educational services to children ages birth to 21. years of age. They have multiple locations in across North and Central Florida.
  • Great Strides for Children is a Non-profit organization formed to help children with disabilities, their families, educators, therapists and others who support them.
  • Distribution locations:
    • Mandarin Clinic
      12276 San Jose Blvd., Suite 508
      Jacksonville, FL 32223
    • Orange Park Clinic
      430 College Drive, Suite 101
      Middleburg, FL 32068
    • Arlington
      Inside the Hope Haven Facility Skinner Building
      4600 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32207