Summer is a great time to head to the beach or swimming pool to take a dip in the cooling water. Regardless, water safety skills should be the top most priority. It does not matter how good or professional you are in the water. Drowning can occur to anyone at anytime if we neglect such skills. In fact, drowning has remain one of the top causes of death among children around the world. Therefore, we should by no means take it lightly at all.
In New Zealand just this year alone, the national drowning toll at the end of October was already 76. Although this figure has been reduced from the 102 in 2011, it is still a significant number of drownings. Water Safety New Zealand is constantly reminding parents and caretakers to ensure that their children have the necessary skills to swim and survive before taking them to the water. At the same time, it is a must to properly supervise them. The Wellington Regional Fundamental Movement Skills Project, which is funded by KiwiSport, through Sport Wellington – which aims to promote growth in key aquatic, movement and manipulative skills – is doing its part to keep children safer in the water.
Since the project began in 2010, more than 11,000 children from 48 schools across the greater Wellington region have been engaged in swimming and water safety skill activities in the past two years. By the end of 2012, there will be an additional 15,000 children from 50 other schools who would have participated in eight, 30-minutes Learn to Swim lessons. Wainuiomata’s Arakura School was one of those who joined the programme this year in February. Since then, they have seen a huge increase in their student’s water confidence. “As the children worked in small groups we saw a big shift in their swimming skills. A number of our pupils don’t get the opportunity to have swimming lessons with their parents so it’s important we make the most of these programmes. Also as we don’t charge parents for the swimming programme, the KiwiSport subsidy makes a big difference for our school,” explained Cathryn Lea, a teacher from the school.
KiwiSport has invested more than $400,000 so far in their Learn to Swim lessons across the region. “Having the skills to swim and survive should be basic for all Kiwi kids. That’s why we’ve put so much emphasis on supporting this programme as part of the overall Fundamental Movement Skills Project. Sport Wellington sees swimming and water safety as a life skill – we want kids to safely enjoy any water-based opportunities they decide to engage in,” stated Peter Woodman-Aldridge, the KiwiSport Manager. For the full story, you can read it here.