By Tarina Rubin, TASC, Thailand.
Click here to view the press release from the Australian Embassy in Thailand.
The launch of SwimSafe Thailand on 24 November 2009 at Mahaparp Krajadthong Uppatham School in Samut Prakan was a great success. The event marked the commencement of survival swimming classes this month in both SwimSafe Thailand venues, Samut Prakan and rural Chiang Rai.
The well attended launch was a terrific opportunity to commend teachers and the school community on their efforts so far while showcasing the new skills of both teachers and students to the local community and to SwimSafe partners and donors.
SwimSafe teaches children the survival swimming skills that protect them from drowning, the leading cause of death in children, post infancy in Thailand. SwimSafe Thailand is an initiative of The Alliance for Safe Children and the College of Public Health Sciences, Chulalongkorn University and technical partners the Royal Life Saving Society Australia and Thai Life Saving Society.
The highlight of the day saw twelve Grade 4 students jump into the officially opened SwimSafe pool with their instructors and Grade 10 teaching assistants to demonstrate the survival swimming skills they have learned so far in their first six lessons.
The project has sparked much curiosity in the local community. The Mayor of Samrong Nua District, Mr Kwanchai Phumpo, who officially opened the pool, said “this project is very useful for our community. It is an activity that develops skills in swimming, survival swimming and can save the lives of children – youth that are key to our country’s future. I am very pleased the community is part of the project”.
Mike Courtnall, Chair of the Australia – Thailand Institute, expressed the organisation’s pride in supporting a program as innovative as SwimSafe. SwimSafe takes an element deeply ingrained in the Australian culture – swimming and water safety – and attempts to apply that in Thailand in a manner that will give Thai children skills that will help protect them from drowning for life.
Also at the event were representatives of the Australian Embassy in Thailand, the Samrong Nua Tambon Administration, the Education Area Office, Thai Life Saving Society, and the Bangkok Patana School TigerSharks swim team.
Across the two locations, 54 students are currently enrolled SwimSafe Thailand and the first graduates are expected to complete the course by the end of 2009. The SwimSafe team thanks all who attended the launch for their support and enthusiasm. We look forward to the coming year of survival swimming classes and watching on as Thai students learn the water safety knowledge and skills that could just save their life.