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Community support strengthens water safety on Great Barrier

Surrounded by water the community on Great Barrier Island know that water safety skills are essential for all.

To help them teach these skills to the next generation Swimming New Zealand recently spent two days on the island running a workshop based on Water Safety New Zealand’s Water Skills for Life Initiative.

Mulberry Grove School hosted the workshop with school teachers, parent volunteers, playcentre staff, children and other interested members of the community taking part.

With the beach right at their doorstep the Swimming New Zealand Kiwi Swim Safe School runs all their swimming sessions in the sea and swim every day over summer, rain or shine and with the odd visit from dolphins.

Swimming New Zealand Education Advisor Sarah Gibbison, who ran the two-day workshop, was impressed with the enthusiasm, questions and discussions throughout her time there.

“There were lots of really good questions asked by the teachers and parents including whether I felt their children were disadvantaged by the fact they only swim in the sea,” Sarah said.

“This was an interesting discussion to have. We discussed drowning statistics, accessibility to water and of course how important it is for children (and adults) to experience a range of water environments to understand the dangers that each environment presents.”

“They quickly realised they have the best of both worlds when thinking about the environment they are lucky enough to swim in each day.”

The first day of the workshop included watching videos which demonstrated competencies that are part of the Water Skills for Life initiative before putting these into practise on the second day.

The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits when it came time to get in the water with all the school children and teachers, playcentre children and parents and parent volunteers getting in and taking part.

In the water the group went through numerous examples of each component of the Water Skills for Life framework along with lots of songs and games that are great for learning water safety skills.

“The children practised a range of entries into the water, including crawling, wading, dolphin diving and walking and really enjoyed learning sculling and experiencing orientation through forward rolls while ball floating.

“The teachers had a great understanding of how these entries would differ based on the tides and water depths, and how they could enter the water differently from a sail boat or kayak.

“Rolling from front to back was also a popular activity and many parents commented they had never seen that activity before but that it looked like fun and made perfect sense for both the building of confidence and floating skills as well as a sound water safety activity.

The Great Barrier Island community offers great support to the school’s students learning how to be safer in and around the water and Swimming New Zealand looks forward to continuing to add to this support and working with them in the future.

If you would like to know more about being a Kiwi Swim Safe School or Water Safety New Zealand’s Water Skills for Life click here or contact your nearest Education Advisor.