The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has teamed up with Stockport sport and fitness provider Life Leisure to pilot a youth water safety scheme the charity hopes will equip children with the skills to keep themselves safe in open water.
All children attending school swim classes and after-school lessons delivered by Life Leisure, will receive special water safety training as part of their session.
The pilot, which the RNLI hopes to roll out, will see classes take place during two further ‘Water Safety Weeks’ in October (w/c 31) and November (w/c 29), the first having run in September.
The training will ensure children know where it is safe to swim, why an adult should always be present, how to avoid danger and how to call for help in an emergency.
As part of the initiative Life Leisure is also offering a free taster swimming lesson for children not currently on a programme, at either its Grand Central pool in Stockport or Avondale facility in Cheadle.
Fiona Pearson from the RNLI says: “The RNLI rescues thousands of people every year around the coasts of the UK and Ireland, but aims to help people, especially children, not to get into danger in the first place. In partnership, the charity developed a Swim Safe programme for young people, which initially was delivered on beaches.
“This year we also offered the programme for schools and now, with the help of Life Leisure, we’re able to trial delivering the safety programme within children’s swimming pool lessons.
“Life Leisure teaches around 6,000 children how to swim every year. Working together to build a water safety education programme into sessions the children are already signed up for seems the perfect way to help young people develop skills and knowledge that will help them stay safe in and around water throughout their lives. The pilot will also serve as the perfect test-bed for us to see if the scheme could work with similar organisations and local authorities around the UK.”
In addition to the specially tailored lessons, participants on the scheme will all receive an RNLI fact pack to help spread the word even further.
Julie Bennett, Swimming Development Manager at Life Leisure, says: “We are pleased and honoured to be working with the RNLI on this important project – raising awareness of water safety and drowning prevention is crucial and something we are incredibly passionate about. If our partnership saves just one life we have helped make a difference.”
As part of the initiative, Life Leisure is also committing to free public swimming at any of its facilities – seven days a week during term times – for children currently on lesson programmes.
Julie continues: “Our ultimate goal is to help young people gain the skills and experience they need to help and encourage them to swim safe well into adulthood.”