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September 16, 2019 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily

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2A — Monday, September 16, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
News

TUESDAY:
By Design
THURSDAY:
Twitter Talk
FRIDAY:
Behind the Story
WEDNESDAY:
This Week in History

MONDAY:
Looking at the Numbers

IS IT BREAK YET?
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DES IGN JA M

ALEC COHEN/Daily
Students from the School of Information work on creating new ideas for water safety improvement at a Multidisciplinary Design Jam in the
UMSI Engagement Center Friday afternoon.

DESIGN BY ALEC COHEN

Throughout
the
process,
the
students
incorporated
feedback from stakeholders,
including two representatives
from the Great Lakes Water
Safety
Consortium,
Jamie
Racklyeft and Dan Metcalf.
Design Jams were launched in
2017 by a group of organizers from
the School of Information, the
Law School, the School of Public
Health and the Center for Academic
Innovation as a way to encourage
interdisciplinary
dialogue
and
generate
possible
solutions
to
large-scale problems based on the
Innovation in Action challenges.
According to Scott TenBrink,
manager
of
UMSI’s
Citizen
Experience Design program and
one of the event organizers, Design
Jams provide the stakeholders
with new ideas and also benefit
the participating students who
are exposed to interdisciplinary
problem-solving.
“We’ve worked with the Law
School, Engineering, Public Health,
and continue to try to reach out and

get more people involved to provide
this
kind
of
multidisciplinary
experience,” TenBrink said.
The Water Safety Design Jam
topic was suggested by Jamie
Racklyeft, executive director and
founder of the Great Lakes Water
Safety Consortium, who reached
out after hearing about Design Jams
through a colleague.
Racklyeft
founded
the
Consortium in 2016 after nearly
drowning in 2012 due to a riptide
in Lake Michigan, at Van’s Beach
in Leland. According to Racklyeft,
the consortium aims to eventually
end drowning in the Great Lakes
and focuses on helping people more
safely enjoy the water. Currently,
there are over 3,500 drownings
in the United States annually and
there have been more than 800
in the Great Lakes since tracking
started in 2010. The Great Lakes
Water Consortium also states that
drowning is the number one cause
of death in children between ages 1
and 4.
Racklyeft said he was grateful for
the opportunity to hear students’
creative ideas on how to tackle the
drowning epidemic.
“To have some of the best and

brightest students coming at this
from a fresh perspective with the
cutting-edge problem-solving skills
they have, like design thinking and
so on, is really, really exciting,”
Racklyeft said.
Racklyeft said there are a few
basic steps that need to be taken to
prevent drownings. People need to
be able to swim; they need to have
information on water safety, lake
conditions and riptides; they need
to have access to a lifeguard and
safety equipment; and they should
be familiar with the mantra “Flip,
Float, Follow,” a drowning survival
technique. One major challenge,
Racklyeft said, is disseminating
water
safety
information
and
getting swimmers to actually take
measures toward improved water
safety, so the Consortium is looking
for new, innovative strategies.
“There’s a lot of fundamentals
that we know, but then we know
that we need more innovative
approaches, especially in how to
persuade people,” Racklyeft said.
“It’s one thing to inform them
about the danger, but it’s another
to get them to actually change their
behavior towards something a little
safer, like putting on a life jacket,
like swimming near a lifeguard,
like making sure there’s rescue
equipment if necessary, or just in
general, if it looks like it might be
dangerous, trust that little voice.”
Racklyeft kicked off the Design
Jam by discussing the importance
of water safety and sharing his
story. According to TenBrink, after
Racklyeft shared a video about
his experience and the emotional
impact of drownings, the room
fell silent. TenBrink said Friday’s
Design Jam was unique in that it
centered around a heavy topic.
Even if students don’t have
direct experience with drownings,
TenBrink said he feels it’s a topic
many people can connect to
emotionally.
“When you think about Great
Lakes drowning, maybe you’re not
directly connected to that, but it
feels like something that would be
really great to be part of a solution
for,” TenBrink said.
Most of the groups focused
on ways to better spread water
safety
information
and
make
safety equipment more accessible.
Ideas included a kids’ water safety
mascot similar to Smokey the Bear,

who represents fire safety; a safety
sign connected to a push message
and Amber Alert; a kids cereal box
with information; a “Flip, Float,
Follow” social media campaign
and different methods of supplying
safety kits and materials on beaches.
The groups built or drew small-
scale prototypes of their ideas and
pitched them to the stakeholders,
then had ten minutes to refine their
products. The groups then gave
two-minute presentations to the
room.
The winning idea picked by the
stakeholders was a multifaceted
approach to encouraging the usage
of safety equipment, especially
life jackets. Information junior
Sai Surbehera, a member of the
winning team, pointed out that
almost 90 percent of drowning
victims in the U.S were not wearing
life jackets. His team aimed to
make life vests more accessible by
providing safety equipment stations
on beaches.
Surbehera said there are many
psychological
reasons
for
not
wearing a life vest, including
tanning or wanting to look cool.
Surbehera’s team tried to confront
the problem by conceptualizing a
Snapchat filter that would turn a life
vest into six-pack abs. According to
Surbehera, this also played upon
the fact that the vast majority of
drowning victims are male.
One interesting aspect of the
Design Jam, Surbehera said, was
working with a group representing a
wide range of backgrounds. Most of
his group members came from areas
with many beachfronts, including
New Jersey, Washington state and
Michigan, but each member had a
different understanding of beach
culture. As a result, Surbehera said,
the team could better address some
of the cultural factors affecting life
jacket usage.
In announcing the winning
team,
Racklyeft
said
the
stakeholders found the focus on
life jackets compelling, since so
few drowning victims are wearing
safety equipment. Still, he said
he was impressed by all the ideas
and plans to incorporate them
into the Great Lakes Water Safety
Consortium’s future work.

WATER SAFETY
From Page 1A

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