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The Survival Swimming programme at Hanover Park has become more than just a drowning prevention initiative.

When the NSRI’s Drowning Prevention department launched their Survival Swimming programme with the assistance of the City of Cape Town (in particular Mr Gordon, Mrs Salie and Mr Adams), Executive Director of Drowning Prevention Dr Jill Fortuin stated that their main aim was to leave the kids with water safety knowledge and Survival Swimming skills. Little did she know that her team would be leaving the Hanover Park community with so much more.

An event was held towards the end of April at Hanover Park Swimming Pool to celebrate the conclusion of the Survival Swimming programme in Hanover Park.

“The event went off exceptionally well,” Jill enthuses. “From December last year to date, about 1 410 children have been taught the Survival Swimming programme at Hanover Park, due to the hard work and diligence of Survival Swimming Instructor, Bernice Cook-Mentor and the support of Hanover Park Facility Manager, Sean Gordon. Reaching so many people is mind-blowing. We held the event there as we wanted to say thank you to the City of Cape Town officials and community members who participated in the programme with such commitment and enthusiasm.”

Hanover Park has been marred by gang violence, and most recently there has been a flare up, so much so that the Survival Swimming event almost didn’t go ahead.

“The NSRI takes safety very seriously, but we are cognisant of the fact that gang violence is the community of Hanover Park’s daily reality,” Jill says. “We chose to look beyond this to demonstrate our commitment to the Drowning Prevention Programme.”

As part of this programme, a group called the Pool Warriors Group was initiated. The group comprises of about 10-15 ladies, who are either stay-at-home moms, retired individuals or unemployed. For the Pool Warriors group, the Survival Swimming programme was about more than swimming – it was a social, networking, counselling, and support initiative.

“If you think of a gym in an affluent or middle-income community, people will come there and network and perhaps go for a coffee or a walk afterwards. Hanover Park Swimming Pool has become that. It’s become far more than a drowning prevention initiative to this particular community because it has been embraced with so much enthusiasm.”

Jill’s passion for her work is infectious. She believes that this is an example of how the NSRI embraces its vision of saving lives, changing lives and creating futures.

“If we’re able to go and educate a grandmother, who is then able to teach their grandchild to swim, and this creates an opportunity for that child to become a lifeguard, it means that child won’t be lost to a gang or lost in gang violence. It could change that whole family’s life forever. This is something that I am so proud to be a part of, and it’s really dear to my heart. If we can be that change agent, how amazing would that be?” she says emphatically.

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