Summer doesn’t mean fun in the sun for every youngster in KwaZulu-Natal. Although many live along the East Coast of South Africa, children from disadvantaged communities seldom have an opportunity to learn to swim, putting their lives in danger.
That’s why uShaka Marine World created the Swimanathi three years ago. This KZN Water Safety and Learn to Swim Programme enables children from disadvantaged communities to learn to swim and find out about all the ins and outs of water safety so that they can enjoy themselves beside a pool or on the beach without the risk of injury or drowning.
In 2019, uShaka Marine World & SAAMBR and its partners, the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, Tsogo Sun, eThekwini Municipality, Gagasi 99.5fm, Lifesaving SA plan to teach 150 children from uShaka’s neighbouring Addington Primary School, all of which come from disadvantaged communities, how to enjoy themselves as well as learn about water safely.
The youngsters, aged between 10 and 12 (grades 4 to 6) will be divided into groups of 15 and will be given meals and costumes. Lessons during the six week weekend training programme will take place from January 26th until March 3rd.
In addition to learning how to swim, uShaka Marine World will also teach these children about the wonders of the ocean. A dolphin show will introduce them to the marine theme park’s wonderful dolphins while a tour of the Aquarium and some lessons from Sea World will teach them all about marine conservation and the importance of conserving our precious marine resources.
On March 9, the programme will culminate in the Mighty Kids event, a water obstacle course complete with inflatable challenge of slides, twists and turns, that will pit the province’s newest water babies against any other youngsters wishing to participate on the day.
Speaking at the Swimanathi media launch on Thursday, January 24th, uShaka Marine World CEO, Dr Stella Khumalo said that ensuring that future generations were water wise and safe was very close to her heart. “When you and your team are passionate about seeing families enjoy themselves in the water, it is very upsetting to realise that many of our children lose their lives every year because they simply do not know how to swim. So many children and their parents take the opportunity to learn how to swim for granted. But not all children have this privilege and we are hoping that our Swimanathi will go some way towards ensuring the safety of just a few of our precious youngsters,” she said.