Learn to Swim Initiative Reaches Every Southland Child
Learn to Swim Initiative Reaches Every Southland Primary School Child
In a New Zealand first, every Southland primary school child will receive professional swimming lessons through an initiative aimed at reducing the region’s drowning toll by getting kids into the water and learning to swim.
Swim Safe Southland – a partnership between Water Safety New Zealand, Sport Southland, Southern REAP, and Swimming New Zealand and part of the nationwide Sealord Swim for Life initiative – will give all 7921 of Southland’s years one to eight pupils attending a primary school 10 swimming lessons per year from trained, quality instructors.
Nationally, only one in five 10-year-olds can swim 200m (the benchmark for being able to swim and survive), meaning 80% of 10-year-olds cannot swim well enough to save themselves.
With funding support from Sport NZ’s KiwiSport Regional Partnership Fund, Southland and Gore District Councils, the Community Trust of Southland, and the Invercargill and Mataura Licensing Trusts, the lessons will cover vital water safety skills while working towards swimming 200 metres. Pupils will be given pre and post assessments to measure the impact of the lessons.
In an effort to eliminate any potential barriers, transport costs are also subsidised for schools that need it, while out of school time is minimised by instructors travelling to the local community or school pools to conduct the lessons.
Water Safety New Zealand Chief Executive Matt Claridge says reaching every primary school student in Southland is an incredible achievement and congratulated all parties involved.
“It is only through the dedication and vision of all our community partners – and the Sealord Swim for Life initiative –that Swim Safe Southland has come to fruition. This is a vital and life saving initiativeand we’re proud to be a part of making it happen.”
Swim Safe Southland Advisory Board spokesperson Vanessa Hughey says the strength of the initiative has been in the collaborative approach from all organisations involved.
“There are so many community organisations here in Southland willing to pool resources and expertise and, as a result, every primary school student in Southland is set to benefit,” she says.
“The programme is teaching our kids skills that will stay with them for life and the buy-in from the community organisations involved as well as from schools and parents has been the enabling factor in ensuring the programme can span every Southland primary school.”
Sealord Swim for Life (which Swim Safe Southland is part of) provides Kiwi kids with the opportunity to learn to swim and survive by working with regional sports trusts and authorities to enable swim and survive education in schools and pools. So far almost 200,000 children nationally have participated in Sealord Swim for Life with this number expected to grow to 250,000 by the end of 2014.