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Approximately 2,300 Grade 4 students in WSD will be learning important lessons about water safety thanks to a new partnership with the City of Winnipeg.
Swimming Counts is a pilot program that will see WSD students transported to City of Winnipeg pools for water safety sessions.
The program, which will run from January to June, is based on resources and curriculum from the Canadian Red Cross and the Lifesaving Society—Manitoba Branch.
WSD Trustee Mark Wasyliw, who originally proposed a water safety program for WSD just over a year ago, was on hand for the pilot project announcement at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex on Jan. 3.
“The Swimming Counts program is going to save lives by giving our students a basic level of survival skills when it comes to water,” he said. “I’m pleased that this partnership will make it possible for all youth to learn water safety at a young age.”
City councillor Mike Pagtakhan called the program “an important step towards reaching all of the children in the division to provide vital swimming education.”
The program, being offered to students free-of-charge, will provide an hour-long classroom session, as well as three 40-minute sessions at City of Winnipeg pools. WSD will transport students to and from the pools.
While the program is not intended to provide swimming lessons, it will provide students with the life skills to remain safe in, on or around the water. Experts have identified the Grade 4 target group as an appropriate age to introduce students to learn and retain water safety training.
Mr. Wasyliw said the program addressed a growing need in the community, noting that many newcomers to Canada have had neither the opportunity nor environment to learn about water safety.
“For many of our students, living in Winnipeg is the first time they have ever been surrounded on all sides by waterways. We have immigrant children who come from landlocked countries with few, if any, rivers and lakes. We also have inner city students who simply don’t have the opportunities many of us take for granted when it comes to learning about water safety," he said.
“We have to prepare our students, in a water-rich province like Manitoba, to have basic lifesaving skills if they get into trouble.”