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More children use local water playground

9 January 2013

Media Release KiwiSport Ocean Water Sports programme

More children use local water playground

Hundreds more Wellington children are now experiencing ocean water sports in their own backyard … Wellington Harbour.

Through a KiwiSport-funded programme, the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club (RPNYC) is delivering a two-hour ocean water sports introduction in either keelboat sailing, dinghy sailing, kayaking, waka ama or windsurfing to at least 1250 school children during this summer.

Already the introductory ocean water sport sessions have encouraged at least 15 children to sign up for further lessons in dinghy sailing and in the Wellington Ocean Sports Holiday programme which covers a variety of ocean sports.

The Ocean Water Sports project follows a successful contract between the club and Sport Wellington two years ago to introduce keelboat sailing to almost 500 children. Since then RPNYC has partnered with Wellington City Council to encourage more teenagers and adults to ‘have a go’ at ocean water sports during Saturday open days.

By the end of December 924 children had sailed, paddled or windsurfed from the club’s Clyde Quay Marina base or from Freyberg Beach as part of the ocean water sports school programme.

Programme coordinator Matthew Wood says funding from KiwiSport to widen the water sports available gives children across the region a greater chance to experience a new sport in their own backyard.

“We are surrounded by ocean in Wellington so it’s great to give children the opportunity to enjoy these varied water-based sports. We’ve been inundated from schools who want to be involved and have awesome feedback from them,” he says. “It’s fantastic to see children from lower decile schools, who might not normally have the opportunity to get out on the water, have an awesome time out there.”

The RPNYC has partnered with Tunui a te Ika Outrigger Canoe Club, Canoe and Kayak, Wild Winds and the Wellington Windsurfing Association to provide specialist instruction in the different water sports. During the two hour instruction children are also taught basic water safety skills, wind awareness and other skills generic to different ocean water sports. This gave children the opportunity of on-going participation with any of the water sport clubs, says Matthew.

However just travelling to Wellington City and going out on the water is a new experience for some children. Principal of Russell School, Sose Annandale says the programme is of immense benefit for the children from the Porirua school.

“This is a really special trip that is reserved for the final push in the development of our leaders here at Russell School. From here they go out into the big world of intermediate and beyond hopefully to return one day full of pride for their community and the learning journey they began at Russell.

“The challenge of such sports for the children when they are out of their comfort zone gives them a huge sense of 'conquering' their inner fear and in turn enables the thought, trigger or message that they 'can do anything',” she says.

Sose adds that Pasifika children are over represented in water sport mishaps through drowning and poor safety practises on the water. “So safety messages on the boat such as the purpose of the life jacket are powerful messages.”

KiwiSport Manager Peter Woodman-Aldridge agrees. He says the ocean water sports programme has a secondary aim. “Because of our location Sport Wellington sees water safety as a life skill. We emphasise any water-based sports provide water safety skills as well as instruction in the sport. This ties in with our programme Learn to Swim which has taught water skills to thousands of children throughout the Wellington region since 2010.”

KiwiSport aims to increase the number of school-aged children having the opportunity and participating in sports. Through Sport Wellington KiwiSport has invested $2.2 million during the past three years in community-led programmes, enabling more than 109,000 children to participate in sport across the greater Wellington region.

ENDS

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