A NORTHSIDE schoolgirl whose sister drowned three years ago in a tragic accident has been presented with a special award for raising funds and awareness about water safety.
Kayleigh Flynn was just 16 when she drowned on June 24, 2009, after becoming entangled in debris at the Wren’s Nest weir in the Strawberry Beds.,
Her heartbroken younger sister Jasmine (now 16), from Blanchardstown, has spent the last two years fundraising for Irish Water Safety so that no other lives will be lost through downing.
“I can’t describe what it’s like to lose your sister and your friend,” she told Northside People.
“My world isn’t the same. It felt as if my heart was ripped out.
“The day Kayleigh died was the worst day of my life. Even though there was a bit of an age gap between us, we were still close.”
Jasmine, a fifth year student of Coolmine Community School in Dublin 15, first thought about fundraising two years ago.
“I was talking to my counsellor about things and the thought came to me that I wanted to do whatever I could to prevent any other family losing a loved one like we did,” she explained.
“I got lots of help from my friends, Kayleigh’s friends and my family and managed to raise over €1,700, which was great.
“Even if that money helped one family it would be a miracle.”
Jasmine explained how she only became aware of water safety after the death of her older sister.
“If I go swimming at the beach I look at what other people are doing and worry that they’re putting themselves at risk,” she stated.
“I’m actually proud of myself for the money I raised, even though I would never give myself much credit.”
Proud mum Sandra Flynn said that the day of the cheque presentation, which took place in Coolmine school on Friday, September 21, filled her with mixed emotions.
“I was of course really proud of Jasmine but naturally you wish that things were different,” she told Northside People.
“It still seems like yesterday since we lost Kayleigh. She was a very caring, loving girl who was always there for others.
“I hope that this money will go towards signs or barriers to prevent people from accessing places like the weir [where Kayleigh drowned] and warn them of the dangers.”
Last year, 128 people drowned in Ireland.
Roger Sweeney, deputy CEO of Irish Water Safety, praised Jasmine for her wonderful work in raising funds and awareness about the dangers of water.
“I was humbled to watch Jasmine’s progress over many months as she kept such a positive attitude that impacted on all those around her as she made the many preparations necessary for her fundraising initiative,” he stated.
“She is a credit to her family and her school.
“Tragically, 40 children aged 14 and under drowned in the last 10 years - a classroom of children.
“It is very important that parents, children and teachers know that Irish Water Safety has introduced a water safety element to the Department of Education who then made it a component of the primary school curriculum.
“Teachers can now get free resources from us to teach water safety awareness before kids even leave the classroom.”
Mr Sweeney said that children are naturally curious about water and therefore parents should check if their school has introduced Primary Aquatics Water Safety (PAWS) programme, which is part of the primary school curriculum.
“Children have drowned silently in a matter of seconds and in just a few inches of water,” Mr Sweeney continued.
“Schoolteachers are ideally placed to instil good safety habits in children’s formative years.”