October 21 2014 Latest news:
Dan Grimmer and Jessamyn Read
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
More than a hundred schoolchildren picked up vital life-saving skills as part of a drive to help keep children safe in and around water this summer,
With the summer holidays approaching and the hot weather making swimming an attractive way to cool down, youngsters from schools across Norwich took part in the Get Safe 4 Summer campaign.
The event, organised by Norwich City Council, saw 120 pupils from six junior and primary schools head to the Riverside Swimming Pool, where they learned how to save people who find themselves in trouble in the water.
With figures showing there is a drowning every 17 hours in the UK and that, on average, 450 to 500 people drown every year, the event aimed to stop Norwich children adding to those statistics.
Schools which took part in today’s event were Avenue Junior, Bluebell Junior, Colman Junior, George White Junior, Wensum Junior and Heartsease Primary Academy. The children were aged 10 to 11.
The event included reaching and throwing rescues, lifejacket saving skills (hosted by Norfolk police’s Broadsbeat team), personal survival skills, swimming safely, mini water polo and beach safety (hosted by the RNLI).
And the youngsters were glad to be taught the skills which could be the difference between life and death.
Jasmine Ramsbottom, 11, from George White Junior School, said: “If you go to the beach you could save someone’s life. It’s good to be aware.”
Schoolmate Evi Scahall, also 11, agreed. She said: “It’s good to have this quality and it’s good to be helpful”.
Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, and cabinet member for culture and sport, said: “We’re fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country but, as we’re surrounded by rivers, miles of coastline and have the Broads on our doorstep, it’s essential we teach our youngsters about water safety.
“With the help of this year’s Get Safe 4 Summer campaign the city council has found a great way of reinforcing safety messages in a fun way.”
The event, opened by Norwich’s new Lord Mayor Judith Lubbock in her first civic engagement, was also supported by The Broads Authority, City of Norwich Swimming Club and Norwich Water Polo Club.
The event came after researchers at the University of East Anglia warned that Britain could become a nation of non-swimmers if action is not taken to dramatically improve school access to facilities and lessons.
Their research showed that 51pc of children aged seven to 11 are unable to swim 25m, despite it being a national curriculum requirement by the time they go to high school.
• Do you think more needs to be done to get children swimming safely? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.