Face to Face, the Volunteers who make a difference on the ground
The 5th of December marks the UN’s International Volunteer Day, celebrating volunteers all around us who come to our assistance in times of need, help save lives and support people so they can live their lives in dignity.
Sport in particular relies on volunteers to spread the knowledge and passion to communities. They are parents, teachers, family members and community leaders that bring the excitement onto the field.
Let’s Swim, funded by the Pacific Sports Partnership under the Australian Government, relies on a network of volunteers to bring water safety and learn to swim to the communities and those who need it most. This week we celebrate those people and their stories.
Today, we start with the group of individuals who have the face to face impact with communities. In Suva, we thank the school teachers who take the time out of their day to bring learn to swim lessons to their classes. In the past year, they have reached over 5,000 school children through their efforts.
One teacher has a bit of an unorthodox learn to swim program. Lipo is a physical training instructor with the Police Academy, who is tasked with training new recruits in not just land activity but also in water. He came to the Let’s Swim program in March 2017, when he used to take the new recruits to do water safety at the Olympic Pool. He noticed the Fiji Swimming Development Officers leading the Schools Swim Programs. Seeing the benefits to having a well structured swim program, he approached them to help teach some of the recruits as they did not know how to swim at all. Swimming is one of the requirements to pass the physical test and in order to do that they had to be able to swim.
The Development Officers had a better idea. Instead of training the recruits for Lipo, they offered to teach him how to instruct swimming and then assisted him in teaching throughout the year. Lipo joined the group of school teachers in a swim instruction course and learned new and interesting ways he could help his recruits.
Lipo finished the course and began running lessons under the supervision of the Fiji Swimming Development Officers which began to make a large impact on the recruits.
Two of his recruits, Rishika and Prishika, had difficulte the first time they came to Olympic Pool.
“I nearly drowned as my twin sister & I didn’t know how to swim,” reflects Rishika, “Before I was involved in this Learn-to-Swim program I used to just swim in the shallow because I didn’t know how to swim properly.”
Lipo has been teaching since May this year, and helped the twins go from wading in the shallow end to swimming across the 50 metre pool.
“Now I can move into the deep more confidently, I know the different strokes. My parents are really happy for my sister & I. The most important change would have to be knowing how to swim, I can enjoy the water now & also I can teach my mum how to swim,” said Rishika.
Not only that, both have now passed their swimming test for the academy!
This is just one example of the many ways volunteers help promote sport in their countries. Small sporting organisations usually do not have the man power to teach an entire city, so volunteers help them reach more people.
Volunteers like Lipo across the region bring these life saving skills to children, women, community leaders and protectors which in return help people become safer around the water. They make swimming fun and motivate people to participate in consistent physical activity.
Today, we celebrate their successes and sacrifices they have made to bring water safety to their communities.