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Children in the West Coast District Municipality (which includes: Swartland Municipality, Bergrivier Municipality, Cederberg Municipality, Saldanha Bay Municipality, Matzikama Municipality) will now receive vital water safety lessons in school, thanks to sponsorship for the next three years.This collection of municipalities have come together in the interests of our children. Funding for the first year, to the tune of R260 110, will enable NSRI to appoint a dedicated instructor who will travel to schools in the area and give water safety class. These class are interactive lessons where the children learn important lessons through song and dance, they also have the opportunity to learn very basic hands-on CPR.This huge geographical area has 126 schools with more than 62 000 children who will be taught in this 3 year period.Drowning is a major cause of accidental death in South Africa. Those statistically most vulnerable include children between the ages of 5 and 14 who live in rural and remote areas. It is to reduce the drowning statistics on the West Coast that The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is currently advertising for a WaterSafety Instructor to visit schools from from Malmesbury to Lutzville.Sea Rescue believes that if the youth at risk are empowered with the valuable life skill of basic WaterSafety education and HandsOn CPR, as well as being confident in their ability to know how to help a friend in difficulty, fewer water related incidents would result in fatal drownings.According to NSRI CEO Dr Cleeve Robertson: “The reality is that the children in rural areas are mostly unsupervised when they are at water. It is often hot and there are few activities to amuse them. They don’t always have access to cell phones and the distance from medical assistance is significant. These children need to know how to get each other out of trouble and how to call for appropriate help.”WaterSafetyWhilst there are a number of ‘learn to swim’ programs on offer, NSRI is acutely aware that even children who can swim drown. There is a very real need for public education regarding basic water safety.The NSRI has been saving lives for over 50 years. We have taken our training syllabus and scoped it down into a relevant and highly practical workshop where children are taught what to do in an emergency, who to call for help and how to initiate HandsOn CPR while they wait for an ambulance to arrive.Our aim is to make youngsters aware of the dangers around water and to give them practical experience of how to act in an emergency.We believe that by offering our water safety programme to youth at risk in South Africa, the youngsters will be empowered with life skills as well as a sense of pride and value in their community.Sea Rescue’s water safety schools programme’s history:In 2004, several pilot studies around teaching water safety were conducted by Sea Rescue. The initial pilot project was hosted in conjunction with The Homestead for youth at risk in Cape Town and by 2006 we had two Instructors in the Cape.Since then, more than 2 million children between the ages of five and fourteen, have been taught basic water safety skills and what to do in an emergency. We now have 16 Instructors who are based from Soweto to Khayelitsha and from Port St Johns to Ceres.Below is a report from our WaterSafety team leader, Eoudia Erasmus who teaches in the Ceres area:“By al die skole wat ek die afgelope kwartaal besoek het, gaan sommige kinders sonder volwasse toesig en sonder toestemming swem. Dis ‘n feit wat ouers en hul werkgewers nie altyd wil glo nie. Damme wat met draad omhein is, of al is “swem verbode”-bordjies by elke denkbare dam, skrik dit glad nie die kinders af nie.Ek wonder dan by myself, sou ek nie ook op ‘n snikhete dag, waar temperature tot bo 40grade styg, lafenis in ‘n plaasdam gesoek het nie? Die meeste woonhuisies is langs damme of kinders stap langs ‘n dam oppad skool toe. Die kinders en jongmense word dus aan wateraktiwiteite blootgestel sonder dat hulle weet van die potensiele gevare van water.Omdat ons weet dat verdrinkings veral by voorheen benadeelde en plaaswerkersgemeenskappe (tussen ouderdom 1-4 en 5-14jr) voorkom, vind daardie skole juis baie baat by WaterSafety werkswinkels. Ek ontsien dit soms om bv. 150km … dalk ook grondpad … te ry na afgelee skole (bv. in die KoueBokkeveld met ongeveer 30 kinders), maar sodra ek van die skool af kom, besef ek dat dit juis hulle is wat die inligting broodnodig het! Dis juis hulle wat nie gereeld die koerant lees of TV kyk om te sien hoeveel kinders verdrink nie! Dis juis hulle wat nog nooit geleer het wat om in ‘n noodsituasie te doen nie. Dis juis hulle wat ongeveer 2 of 3 uur moet wag vir nooddienste om te kom help.Dit is vir my, wat die werkswinkels aanbied, wonderlik om te weet dat die personeel van die skole die projek ondersteun. Hoewel ek self afsprake by skole maak om die werkswinkels aan te bied, het ‘n hele paar skole my ook al self geskakel. Hulle besef die waarde daarvan en dat Watersafety ‘n verskil maak!”Eoudia ErasmusThe Way ForwardSea Rescue’s WaterSafety education is working exceptionally well in Ceres, Worcester, Tulbagh and surrounds. Sea Rescue will expand this programme to the West Coast in the coming months in the hope that we can reduce the drowning statistics in these municipalities.Sea Rescue - Raising a nation of sensible and capable water users
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