$70k grant to help keep BOP kiwis afloat

Water Safety CEO Jonty Mills. Supplied photo.

Thousands of primary and intermediate school students across the Bay of Plenty will be taught vital water safety skills that could save their lives thanks to a $70,000 grant from BayTrust.

The funds will be used by Water Safety New Zealand to deliver their Water Skills for Life programme to children in Year 1-8 with the aim of reducing our horrific drowning rate which is twice that of Australia and four times that of the UK.

Drowning remains the leading cause of recreational death in New Zealand and our third highest cause of accidental death.

Last year 66 people lost their lives in preventable drowning incidents while a further 204 people were hospitalised. Ten of those deaths occurred in the Bay of Plenty.

Water Skills for Life aims to dramatically reduce those numbers, and all funding towards that goal is warmly welcomed by Water Safety New Zealand CEO Jonty Mills.

“The social and economic cost of drowning far outweighs funding to the water safety sector. We need strategic and innovative initiatives to tackle this important issue.

"Water Skills for Life is one of those initiatives and the funding from BayTrust is critical to our being able to reach as many children in Bay of Plenty as possible.

“We are honoured to have our project supported by BayTrust. Without the trust’s support we would not be able to have the maximum opportunity to reduce the number of drownings and hospitalisations in Bay of Plenty.”

The $70,000 grant will be used to run teacher workshops in the coming months. Those teachers will then work with their students either in their school pool or in a community facility to teach them practical water safety skills and how to assess risk so they can make smart decisions around water.

A portion of the funding will also be used to host a refresher course for teachers who have already undergone training previously.

BayTrust CEO Alastair Rhodes says it’s important to ensure there are no barriers to Bay of Plenty children having access to the Water Skills for Life initiative.

“We know cost and access to a facility are barriers that some schools face when trying to deliver aquatic education. We hope this funding will allow Water Safety New Zealand to continue the fantastic work they’re doing to give our tamariki the real world skills they need to stay safe while they’re in, on or around water.”

BayTrust’s vision is to ensure Bay of Plenty is the greatest place to be. Rhodes says water survival skills enable everyone to enjoy our natural resources and feel safe in our community.

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