Learn-to-Swim programme needs community’s help

2016-10-12 06:00
Learn-to-Swim coach, Yonwaba Sipliliti (in front, middle), with a few of the Vezubuhle Primary School learners who take part in the Learn-to-Swim programme.          Photo: SUPPLIED

Learn-to-Swim coach, Yonwaba Sipliliti (in front, middle), with a few of the Vezubuhle Primary School learners who take part in the Learn-to-Swim programme. Photo: SUPPLIED

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A WATER safety programme that has been running for three years in Nelson Mandela Bay to address the high number of drownings among children, is in need of assistance.

Yonwaba Sipliliti and Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics (NMBA) have been running a Learn-to-Swim (LTS) programme since 2013.

The programme helps about 2 000 children a year become water safe.

Yonwaba is perceived as a hero in his community. He does not have his own transportation and, in addition to offering up his time, he also pays for himself and sometimes even the swimmers to take a taxi to and from practice sessions.

The programme teaches children from grade 4 to grade 9 the various aspects of swimming and water safety in 30-minute sessions.

The sessions take place from 10:30am to 3:30pm on weekdays during the swimming season which runs from October to March.

Yonwaba teaches about 150 to 200 children a day and often takes them to a gala or the beach on Saturdays.

NMBA offers a number of pools to the LTS programme, including those in the Algoa Park, Zwide, Motherwell and North End areas.

Most of the children from these parts of Port Elizabeth come from disadvantaged backgrounds and do not know how swim.

“Sometimes they show up to practice having not eaten yet and most of them do not have the necessary swimming equipment,” said Yonwaba.

The LTS’s mission includes:

  • Creating water safety awareness;
  • Teaching the participating children to have fun with water and enable them to save others;
  • Providing development possibilities in poor communities;
  • And demonstrating non-contact rescue.

SwimSafe is intended to eventually form part of the school curriculum. The intended outcome of the programme is to change children’s attitude towards water, and enable them to teach others the techniques that are taught to them.

During the winter months, promising swimmers are taught further techniques in indoor pools.

SwimSafe and LTS are currently partnered with the NMBM, NMBA and Ready For Life and they aim to eventually be partnered up with the Department of Education, the Department of Sport, sponsors and any local NGOs that offer swimming lessons as well.

They will accept any donations, but are specifically looking for a car for Yonwaba and food and water for the children.

To contribute to their cause, contact Kirsten Horton on 074 195 7276 or kirsten@nmb-aquatics.co.za.

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