A Big Jump Forward
By Trisa Cheer
The warm months were great for the Let’s Swim program in Fiji this past quarter, a key time for Development Officers to work with school teachers and children. Our team has been working with the new Development Officers to expand from Suva and into the West, where health reports show the highest rate of drowning.
Let’s Swim Fiji, funded by the Australian Government through the Pacific Sports Partnerships, has seen our first quarter of 2018 work with sixteen primary schools - six from the Central Division, one from Pacific Harbour, seven in Nadi and two from Lautoka with one of them being a special school
Our new strategy has proven very successful, increasing our reach by nine times what we’ve previously been able to achieve. This quarter we spent 109 hours working with schools and impacted approximately 19,249 children ranging from the ages of 5yrs to 14yrs and worked for the first time with special needs children. An average of 74% of school swimmers have progressed at least one level over the last 5 months.
The children were always eager to learn each time they came down to the pool and always looked forward to school swimming day at the pool. As one parent told us “My daughter hates going to school, she deliberately gets up late in the mornings and moves around slowly getting ready but when she knows it’s swim day she’s the first one up in the house waking us all up to hurry up she needs to go early so she doesn’t miss the bus trip down to the pool from school for her swim lesson.”
We’ve making swimming fun by running engaging lessons and also using key days to celebrate the water. We celebrated International World Water Day and International Day of Sport for Development and Peace with water activities for the children from the schools.
Our aqua program is also taking off. We started off with a small group of 8 women. This number is rising with the introduction of work place wellness programs. We’re using aqua aerobics to get more people into swimming activities and to improve their quality of life.
As we move into our cooler months, we’ll be focusing on capacity building with swim instructors. From October to December of 2017, we trained 152 swim instructors. During these cooler months we’ll be not only providing follow up supervised support to some of these instructors but also training new ones in outer islands. We are working with the Sport Development Unit to assist rural communities and provide them with quality learn to swim training.
Stay tuned for more great developments from our Let’s Swim team here in Fiji.