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FOR RELEASE: May 26, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

BRITTANY PROJECT Takes Life Jackets to 10 State Parks

In an effort to prevent drownings, the second-leading cause of fatal accidents to Oklahoma children, the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition will expand the “Brittany Project,” its life jacket loaner program, to 10 state lake parks beginning Memorial Day weekend.

Last year, SAFE KIDS piloted the program at Lake Thunderbird and its success led the coalition to expand the program across the state.

Named for 4-year-old Brittany Mobley, who drowned Memorial Day weekend four years ago and wasn't wearing a life jacket, the program will offer free use of children's life jackets at the following lakes in addition to Thunderbird's Little Sandy beach: Lake Murray, Lake Texoma, Arrowhead and Fountainhead parks at Lake Eufaula, Lake Tenkiller, Sequoyah Park at Lake Fort Gibson, Green Leaf Park at Green Leaf Lake, Quartz Mountain State Park at Lake Altus, and Keystone State Park at Lake Keystone.

In 1998, 22 Oklahoma children age 10 and under drowned -- mostly in lakes. “A typical drowning scenario is when a family goes to the lake without life jackets for the children, and the adults have a brief lapse in supervision. That very brief lapse can result in a child's death or irreversible brain damage,” said Martha Collar, coalition coordinator.

In addition to SAFE KIDS, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, sponsors include the Oklahoma Department of Tourism, Family & Friends of Dona Glenn Dorrell (Brittany's mother), and the Oklahoma City Boat Dealers Association.

“This program has been a wonderful example of collaboration among groups with a common mission. If the Brittany Project works well at these 10 parks, we'd like to expand it even more later this summer,” said Ron Stahl, director of marketing, Oklahoma Department of Tourism.

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