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Grand Haven students work to promote safety along the lakeshore

They worked closely with the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and other groups around the area.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — We've all heard of "stop, drop, and roll," but what about "flip, float, and follow"? A group of Ottawa County students wants to make sure both phrases are equally as well-known.

"Our driving question was 'how can we make the lakeshore safer,'" said Brooke Whitaker, a rising senior at Grand Haven High School.

It's a bold question, and not one with a simple or easy answer.

"We thought, can this problem really be solved? How do you do that?" asked Sarah Dalman, also a rising senior.

These students are part of a two-week summer program through the Ottawa Area ISD called IChallengeU. 

It gives real-world experience and problem-solving opportunities for students in grades 9 through 12. 

So how did the group go about answering the question in only 14 days?

"They started by observation, and then went into investigation and they got to meet people from city government all the way up to state government," said Kim Schrader, a teacher with the district and one of the group mentors.

"We talked to so many people that really had good insights," added Sarah Dalman. 

They worked closely with the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and other groups around the area. 

After two weeks of research, the team came up with several ways to address safety on the lakeshore.

"We created a lesson plan for second grade students to be piloted in the Grand Haven Area Public Schools including beach and water safety," Sarah Dalman explained.

Brooke Whitaker added that water safety is crucial and education is the best way to help save lives. 

"We all grew up in Grand Haven around the water, but it's the people who live on the other side of the state who aren't used to the lake and don't realize the dangers," she said. 

The group also created merchandise prototypes as a way to market the "flip, float, follow" protocol for surviving a rip current.

And as a finale they presented their findings to a group of Grand Haven's city leaders.

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