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NORWALK, Conn. -- Since drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4, it's important to get the word out to youngsters and parents about how this all-too-common tragedy can be prevented. To that end, Kim and Stew Leonard Jr., who lost their own toddler son to a drowning accident, wrote a children's storybook, "Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim," in 2002. Now the book has been translated into Spanish.
"El Patito Stewie Aprende a Nadar" is a child's first guide to water safety. Aimed at children ages two through six, the book conveys an important message of how to be safe near the water through the story of Stewie, a duck who wants to swim with the "big ducks," but is prevented from going in the water by his older sisters until he learns the water safety rules.
Stewie learns the three main rules of water safety -- learn to swim, always wear a life vest, and having a grown-up watch you in the pool -- via a song sung to the tune of "Arroz Con Leche," a popular Spanish nursery rhyme.
"We hope parents will enjoy reading 'El Patito Stewie Aprende a Nadar' as much as their children," said Kim Leonard in a statement. "It is so important for parents to teach their children about water safety. Everyone needs to remember that whenever there is water, never take your eyes off your child."
"More than 13,000 'Stewie the Duck' books have been distributed in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas," noted Stew Leonard Jr. "Not only do these states have some of the highest drowning rates in the U.S., but they also are the states with the largest Hispanic population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 31 million Hispanic children in the United States who speak Spanish at home. Between these statistics and the requests we received to offer a Spanish-language version of 'Stewie the Duck,' we know we can help save lives."
"El Patito Stewie Aprende a Nadar" costs $4.95 and is available at www.stewietheduck.com or www.amazon.com, or at Stew Leonard's grocery stores in Norwalk, Newington and Danbury, Conn. and Yonkers, N.Y.
The English-language book won the National Water Safety Youth Education Award from the National Water Safety Congress and is used in water safety courses throughout the United States. Over 40,000 books have been sold, with all proceeds going to water safety programs and swimming lesson scholarships.
A year after 21-month-old Stew Leonard III died in a drowning accident in 1989, his parents formed a foundation in their son's name, which has raised over $1 million to fund swim scholarships and purchase water safety equipment.
In other Stew Leonard's news, the grocer is launching its own brand of new ultrapremium ice cream in July - National Ice Cream Month - with free samplings at all four Stew Leonard's stores on July 13 through July 15
Made in small batches, all-natural, hand-packed Stew Leonard's Dairy Fresh ice cream will retail for $3.19 per pint, or two for $6. Stew Leonard's dairy plant manager Craig Hartmann developed the six exclusive flavor formulations: Pure Vanilla, Belgian Chocolate, Vanilla Fudgy Fudge Swirl, Double Chocolate Chip, Double Mint Chip, and Ripe Strawberry.
Family-owned Stew Leonard's began life as a dairy store and is well known for its private label fresh milk.