Water safety breaks cultural barriers

Staying afloat: Sunday, left, Sarena and Pulbuoy are learning to swim under the watchful eyes of VICSWIM instructor Mikaela at the The Pines Forest Aquatic Centre in Frankston North. Picture: Gary Sissons

Staying afloat: Sunday, left, Sarena and Pulbuoy are learning to swim under the watchful eyes of VICSWIM instructor Mikaela at the The Pines Forest Aquatic Centre in Frankston North. Picture: Gary Sissons

CHILDREN from non-English-speaking backgrounds statistically have a higher risk of drowning, and are more at risk in the water, than others in the community.

So, a series of learn-to-swim programs for Sudanese youngsters in Kingston this week are especially relevant at this time of year.   

Don Tatnell Leisure Centre, Parkdale, and Waves, Highett, are two of 130 venues hosting VICSWIM’s Summer Kidz program, in partnership with migrant support agency The New Hope Foundation.

They aim to teach 22 Sudanese youngsters how to experience the joys of swimming confidently and safely – something their born-and-bred Aussie school mates usually take for granted.

Aquatics and Recreation Victoria CEO Anthony McIntosh said VICSWIM programs assisted children from multicultural backgrounds “to develop the confidence to fully participate in Australian life”.

“The need for programs like this is as critical as ever in reducing fatal and non-fatal drowning incidences in Victoria,” he said.

“We’re excited that these Sudanese families recognise the importance of gaining swimming and water safety skills. Not many Sudanese families will have grown up around water and may not be familiar with the dangers.

“Ideally, they will gain a lot of confidence from the program, put their parents at ease, and show off to their friends. It can really help these families fully participate in aquatic recreation, which is a really important part of Australian culture and lifestyle.”

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 20 January 2016

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