Safety skills fo­cus on Chi­nese

Central Leader - - SPORT -

Ef­forts to spread the wa­ter safety mes­sage into Auck­land’s di­verse com­mu­ni­ties are step­ping up.

Auck­land’s Chi­nese com­mu­nity is the tar­get of a new learn to swim pro­gramme to be run by the Chi­nese New Set­tlers Ser­vices Trust and the YMCA.

The pro­gramme is specif­i­cally de­signed to teach the Chi­nese com­mu­nity swim­ming and wa­ter safety skills and is be­ing run in con­junc­tion with the YMCA La­goon in Pan­mure and Wa­ter Safety New Zealand.

Trust man­ager Glo­ria Gao says while wa­ter sports are pop­u­lar among the Chi­nese com­mu­nity many do not ac­tu­ally have the skills to par­tic­i­pate safely. She says a 2012 sur­vey of Chi­nese Auck­lan­ders showed an alarm­ing 72 per cent be­lieved wa­ter­sports to be ‘‘com­pletely safe’’.

‘‘But many people are not aware of the dan­gers so it’s im­por­tant that they learn wa­ter safety and swim­ming skills.’’

She says the lack of safety aware­ness among new Chi­nese set­tlers stems from the rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments people find in New Zealand.

‘‘Many people em­i­grate from in­land China so they have never had the need to learn to swim or any wa­ter safety skills.’’

This lack of aware­ness has even lead to fa­tal­i­ties, Wa­ter Safety New Zealand’s na­tional com­mu­nity man­ager Dave Lock­wood says.

‘‘The Asian com­mu­nity is over-rep­re­sented in the num­ber of people that drown each year,’’ he says.

‘‘The best way to ad­dress the is­sue is to reach people through their com­mu­nity net­works.’’

Re­cent im­mi­grant Ben­jamin Liao came to New Zealand in 2012 and has been at­tend­ing the lessons with his daugh­ter Lisa and wife Xing He­ung.

‘‘It’s a very good course,’’ he says.

‘‘Be­fore we started, none of us had any swim­ming skills. Xing He­ung couldn’t even float, but now she can.

‘‘I’d def­i­nitely rec­om­mend to oth­ers’’.

The pro­gramme is part of a wider wa­ter safety cam­paign to spread the mes­sage ‘‘Wa­ter is Change­able, Safety is Valu­able’’.

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Swim­ming safe: A new pro­gramme aims to en­cour­age wa­ter safety in the Chi­nese com­mu­nity.

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