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Cultivating a mindset of water safety in young swimmers

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Members of the Darcey Sunshine Foundation with volunteers and the children who attended the day.
Members of the Darcey Sunshine Foundation with volunteers and the children who attended the day.

Saturday 12 November marked the second annual beach safety awareness day on Strand Beach for The Darcey Sunshine Foundation and its “Sunshine Kids”.

The wind couldn’t drown the sound of the excited squeals of children, many of them visiting the beach for the first time.

But drowning, literally, is a major cause of accidental death in South Africa and yet it is completely preventable.

In memory of Darcey Elizabeth Sunshine Doig, who lost her life to drowning in 2020, The Darcey Sunshine Foundation aims to remove the financial barriers to practical water safety education through creating partnerships between preschools from rural and vulnerable communities and established swim schools, introducing water safety and survival swimming as part of their Grade R curriculum.

Each year the children take the survival lessons they have learnt in a warm pool throughout the year and transfer them to the ocean. This year 80 children attended the day, including kids from Bottelary Primary, Maryka Educare in Eerste River, Fundi Rainbow Educare Strand and Covenant Primary Strand, which kicked off with a presentation from the inspiring Lisa Starr of Helderberg Ocean Awareness Movement, followed by a quick beach clean.

The lifeguards of Strand Surf Lifesaving Club then delighted the children with a mock rescue, demonstrating what to do should they find themselves in trouble in the water and how to attract attention. The Strand Nippers team of enthusiastic volunteers then took the children through a series of activities to reinforce the message of safety first when at the beach.

With the busy summer season imminent and the beaches becoming more crowded, the education regarding safety at the beach really is essential to avoid further tragedies from occurring. The collaboration of the various organisations involved in drowning prevention is a wonderful way of extending the number of children (and parents) that can be reached with this essential education.

It was a day that nobody, child or adult, is likely to forget. The children finished their day with a warm hot dog and apple (buns and fruit kindly sponsored by Lion’s Square Kwikspar) before heading home with sand in their hair and joy in their hearts. What an end to the year!

To support the work of The Darcey Sunshine Foundation, please find more information at www.thedarceysunshinefoundation.org or on social media @thedarceysunshinefoundation

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