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Youngsters affected by Chernobyl Disaster explore Norfolk

The children from Belarus at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: South Norfolk Council

The children from Belarus at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: South Norfolk Council

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Some youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds do not get a chance to enjoy some of the simple things in life like going swimming.

But children from the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children’s Charity were able to take part in free swimming sessions at Diss Leisure Centre after donations and support from South Norfolk Council.

The 10 children, from some of the most disadvantaged areas of Belarus, had two fun educational sessions in the pool run by the council’s experienced Swim School teacher Lindsey Chapman, who gave up her time for free.

Ms Chapman said: “At first, many of the children were unsure of the water, but they soon started enjoying themselves and they didn’t want the sessions to end.”

The children who could swim, were shown how to do all the different strokes and learnt new skills such as somersaults and handstands.

While the complete beginners were taught water confidence and basic stroke techniques to enable them to move in the water.

Ms Chapman added: “It was amazing to be able to support this fantastic charity that does so much for these children and gives them experiences they could never have dreamed of.”

Each year the Diss branch of the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children Charity hosts a group of disadvantaged children from areas of Belarus which have been contaminated by the fallout of the Chernobyl explosion.

Kirsty Neve, the charity’s branch co-ordinator for Diss said: “We are very grateful to Lindsey and Diss Leisure Centre for offering the children swimming lessons as most of them wouldn’t get that opportunity at home and we know what an important life skill it can be.”

While in the UK, the children have also seen the dentist and optician, visited the seaside and joined in at schools learning first aid, been to the zoo, circus and have even enjoyed a traditional Christmas Day.

Ms Neve added: “It’s always such a privilege to see the difference these visits make to the children’s energy levels and confidence over the month they are here.

“They return home with a suitcase full of vitamins, warm clothing and memories of their second families in Diss.”

To support Friends of Chernobyl’s call 01379 890310, or email focc.diss@gmail.com.

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