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No drownings the goal for trust

STATISTICS from Water Safety New Zealand show about half the country’s 10-year-olds cannot swim 25m, and 25 percent of these children cannot keep afloat while in the water.

Carl Newman, trust manager for Swim For Life Tairawhiti (SFLT), says the trust offers swim and survive education programmes to about 3200 students at low-decile rural schools.

The programme consists of ten lessons of quality instruction in groups of no more than 10 students, resulting in 16,000 participation hours per year.

“SFLT wish to provide our local community with some fundamental life skills through aquatic activities to maximise their life-long participation in a variety of water situation,” Mr Newman said.

“Statistics indicate there is a real need to intervene and address the issue of children’s swimming ability.

“To do this, SFLT implement a project that builds strong foundations to enable students to work towards having the skills to participation in aquatic activities that are so prevalent in this region.

“Having over 3200 at-risk students, who would maybe not otherwise get the opportunity, participate in 10 practical lessons every year . . . means the skill level for students will be far greater when engaging in the aquatic environment, which will help achieve a consistent record of no drowning within the region.”

Water activities available to the community included beaches, rivers, surfing, kaimoana gathering, waka ama, fishing and boating.

“Our programme will help to ensure future generations have the skills to utilise these activities safely,’’ Mr Newman said.

The SFLT programme was awarded the Community Impact Award at the 2017 Bronwyn Kay Sporting Excellence Awards and relies on funders, including the New Zealand Community Trust, Eastland Community Trust, Lotto New Zealand, Water Safety New Zealand and Kiwi Sport.

LEARNERS: Elgin School students in a Swim for Life Tairawhiti programme. Water Safety NZ , through Swim for Life, is funding 3250 primary school children in Tairawhiti to take part in swimming lessons. File picture