Ensuring all North Canterbury primary school students learn how to survive in, on or around water is the aim of one of our providers doing the mahi in their community to prevent drownings.
The Waimakariri District Council’s (WDC) WaiSwim Schools Programme is giving their children the skills to last a lifetime of water safety.
Over six thousand children in the North Canterbury area have benefited from the WDC’s WaiSwim Schools Programme from July 2020 to June this year.
The programme is run by a team of dedicated and qualified instructors who work tirelessly to ensure the region’s children learn about water safety, with some of the instructors travelling up to three hours a day to ensure that rural children are getting the same as their urban counterparts
WDC’s Dudley Park Aquatic Centre Manager, Sue Bergin says that the WaiSwim programme is about creating confidence in children who will have the skills to be safe around all forms of water.
‘We also want to make an impact on both the short-term and long-term drowning statistics by reaching out to all schools in North Canterbury.’
Sue says the aim of the programme is to empower the children to feel confident in the water and to let their caregivers know they must watch them when they are in the water, and passing on what they have learnt during the sessions to others.
Teaching the children to swim is a large component of the programme, however, water safety, and talking about rivers, beaches and other bodies of water are also simulated throughout the lessons and are the primary focus on the last day.
‘Children are taught basic swimming and survival techniques throughout their lessons and on the last day will be able to use these techniques when performing reach rescues, rope throws, correctly fitting life jackets, finding air pocket of a capsized boat, simulating floating down a river and swimming with clothes on.’
During the lessons, teachers can observe and ask questions so that the lessons can continue long after the instructors have finished. The instructors also encourage the teachers to continue to talk to the children about what they have learnt to reinforce learnings.
‘We work hard to make our programme as fun and interactive as possible so that the children are having a positive learning experience in the water.’
Delivering the WaiSwim programme since 2010, WDC is already taking bookings for 2021 as schools book a year in advance to secure the days and times they want.
he Lion Foundation are generous sponsors of the programme and without their help and others, WaiSwim would be unable to reach the number of children that they do.