Updated: Nov 6, 2020
It is every parent’s worst nightmare come true. A scenario so horrifying that a parent thinks it won’t happen to them.
It can’t, they would never let it happen. Believe me, I thought that too.
But then one day you get the most dreaded, gut wrenching phone call that sends your entire world into a tailspin. Your child died in the hands of a caregiver…..
I got that phone call when my son, Mitchell Chang, drowned at Love to Swim School, owned by Mary Reilly Magee. A place that I and other parents trusted but later found out our trust was entirely misplaced.
What do you do after your family has imploded? Literally half your soul ripped away. How do you come back from that?
You are left dumbfounded. Drowning is a sea of heartbreak and misery. Barely able to stay afloat in the waters of life.
Your beautiful, enthusiastic, exuberant-spirited son died.
Even worse, his death was 100%, absolutely preventable. He didn’t have to die!
You find out the company who touted themselves as being safety conscious, was is in reality, a company that created an extremely dangerous environment. Love to Swim School portrayed this environment to be a safe place and groomed parents to believe so.
This adds salt to the wound, as you feel all the negativity pulling you down.
Mitchell died from lack of safety and caregiver neglect.
When I called to ask about safety guidelines for their date night program, a Love to Swim employee told me the adult to child ratio was 1 to 5.
Come to find out Love to Swim’s protocol for date night ratio is really 1 to 8.
When Mitchell drowned, the ratio of adult to children in the pool room was 1 to 16!
Mitchell drowned while playing in the pool with his assigned swim group and had been under water for more than 10 minutes before anyone noticed.
Love to Swim School did not employ a lifeguard position for any of their facilities at the time of Mitchell’s death.
Love to Swim School did not even require Water Safety Instructor certification (WSI) or lifeguard certification to work there….with children….in the water….who are learning to swim.
How can anyone face reality with their child gone forever, especially under these circumstances? With all the negativity that is now your world? How do you cut through the darkness and get to the other side?
Evan turned out to be my knife.
How could I expect my five year old son to face the world if I couldn’t? A child too young to process fully his new life without his brother, best friend, and playmate. He was looking to Mom and Dad to help him through.
We needed to replace the bad with the good. We needed to live again, for Evan!
Okay, easily said….Now what?
A Good Transition!!!!!
We needed to transition from negative to positive.
I stopped viewing it as “God took my son”, to “God saved my other son”. Every child at Love to Swim School that night was in a dangerous situation. Any child that was there could have drowned along with Mitchell.
The situation was that bad!
After knowing what I know now, I see it as a miracle that I still have Evan with me. I am truly, beyond thankful for that!
With a positively-framed mind, we created The Mitchell Chang Foundation.
A foundation to carry own Mitchell’s spirit and memory. To help us replace some of the bad that is now encompassing us, with good.
The Dream of Mitchell’s Landing
Mitchell was all about fun, friends, happiness, and pirates! He was sweet, loving, and oddly for a child, caring and giving.
What better way to continue his good story, than to build community playgrounds through his foundation?!?!
Even better! Let’s not just build any playground, let’s make it a pirate-themed playground. After all, that was what he aspired to be.
Why stop there?!?! Let’s do our best to make it San Antonio’s first inclusive public city playground!!!!
Is this a large undertaking????
The good news is, we have help and support from the community. People have been deeply moved by Mitchell’s story and have shown more compassion than thought imaginable.
The foundation has been overwhelmed with our communities love and desire to help.
We invite you on this journey with us.
Be with us as we navigate this new challenge of creating an amazing playground in Mitchell’s memory. I am sure that at some point we will stumble. Just as I know there will be tears.
But I also know goodness will be spread throughout our community and lives impacted for the better.
I know with the community and your support, we will build an inclusive playground that benefits all children. A playground that will bring not only families but the community together.
A playground that will bring healing.
I ask you now…..
Will you become part of Mitchell’s good story?