Why we started…

On January 1, 1989, a 21-month old toddler lost his life in a drowning accident. This sparked his parents to pledge that they would do everything in their power to prevent this tragedy from striking other families, since drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five.

In 1990, that toddler's parents, Kim and Stew Leonard, founded the Stew Leonard III Children's Charities in memory of their son. Since this time, the Foundation has raised more than $2 million dollars to go towards water safety awareness and education, including lifeguard training and providing 10,000 free or low-cost swimming lessons to children every year.

Taking a cue from the success of the foundation's water safety educational efforts, in 2006 the Leonards broadened the focus to "promoting safe and responsible growth and development in kids through nutritional awareness and water safety." The foundation changed its name to the Stew Leonard III Children's Charities to reflect this new mission.

  • The Leonards have published two books on water safety, with all proceeds benefitting the Stew Leonard III Children's Charities: Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim, a child's first guide to water safety, and Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck, which is about the skills and fears children face when they first start taking swimming lessons. A Spanish version of Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim, called El Patito Stewie Aprende a Nader, is available as well. The foundation's volunteers have read the book to more than 110,000 children over the past 12 years. Almost 225,000 copies of the book have been sold and the book is now in its eighth printing.
  • The Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim mobile app for iTunes and Android was introduced in April 2012. The ibook app, which is free of charge, is the first of its kind designed to promote water safety to children. It features read-to-me audio and contains interactive animations, sound effects, a memory game, and a sing-along. By early 2015, the app was downloaded more than 65,000 times globally, including by users in Australia, Canada, the UK, and China.
  • In 2016, Stew Leonard III Children's Charities launched Stewie the Duck Animal Crackers. Available at all five Stew Leonard's locations, these crackers are all-natural, nut and dairy free and contain no preservatives. Each 2 oz. box sells for $1.19 or five boxes for $5. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these animal crackers will benefit Stew Leonard III Children's Charities and support low-cost swimming lessons, life guard training, and water safety education programs around the country. Just a $10 donation - or the purchase of ten boxes of Stewie the Duck Animal Crackers - will provide one swim lesson for an underprivileged child.

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