by Amy Peden, TASC, Danang Vietnam.
SwimSafe Da Nang has officially begun after a launch on Sunday May 31st at Be Van Dan primary school in Thanh Khe district. SwimSafe, a survival swimming program for children in South East Asia, aims to teach 5000 children in the three months of summer. As drowning is the number one killer of children in Vietnam, post-infancy, the SwimSafe program is a vitally important public health intervention aimed at addressing the child drowning epidemic across Asia.
SwimSafe is a component of the Safe Da Nang program, which has been working to reduce child morbidity and mortality for the past 2 years. SwimSafe is a partnership between The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC) and the Hanoi School of Public Health (HSPH).
As a key technical partner, the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (RLSSA) provided a customized curriculum based on the Swim and Survive program. Royal Life is also the Australian Partner Organisation for Amy Peden, an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development working in Da Nang as a Survival Swimming Project Officer.
The launch was extremely successful, with representatives of the Da Nang People’s Committee, the Vietnamese Public Health Association, TASC, HSPH, Red Cross Vietnam and the RLSSA in attendance.
An audience of over 200 people experienced the content of the SwimSafe program firsthand, with demonstrations of survival swimming lessons in a portable pool and a CPR lesson complete with practice time on rescue manikins. Entertainment on the day was provided by children from Be Van Dan primary school. Instructors were also presented with their CPR and Survival Swimming Instructor certificates by Nguyen Van Luu from Red Cross Vietnam and Justin Scarr from RLSSA.
Speaking at the launch, Madam Minh from the Da Nang People’s Committee, emphasized the novel approach the SwimSafe program was taking to preventing child drowning in Vietnam. “The SwimSafe program teaches children safe swimming skills as well as rescue skills. This is important as adults might not know rescue skills. Therefore I call on all local offices and departments to support this excellent and comprehensive program.”
Professor Le Vu Anh from the Vietnam Public Health Association and the Hanoi School of Public Health was also in attendance. He emphasized the importance of the SwimSafe program given that drowning is the leading killer of children in Vietnam. “Teaching children both swimming and rescue skills will have a vital impact on reducing the prevalence of child drowning” Professor Anh said.
The Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has also played a key role in the development of the curriculum and training of instructors. Mr Ross Cox, TASC’s Senior Operations Officer feels that the support received from RLSSA has been invaluable. “Royal Life provided one of their senior staff to our program specifically to Train the Trainers in appropriate teaching techniques for our SwimSafe program. They have also directly supported the one year assignment of an AYAD volunteer to the project to assure technical and administrative support is continuous over the peak summer months when our biggest effort is being made in the community. With this kind of support it is possible to achieve an international standard in our program for all participants, teachers and students alike”.
Teaching commenced the following day at 12 venues across Da Nang. Over 3000 children are already enrolled in the program. With strong political and community support, SwimSafe Da Nang is well on the way to reaching its target of 5000 children taught. SwimSafe will continue through until the end of August. The first cycle of children are due to graduate from the program mid July.