Movers and shakers in KZN’s hospitality and business sectors – uShaka Marine World, Tsogo Sun, SAAMBR, Lifesaving SA, GeoChem, Mabliza Lifestyle and Jump City – have taken a stand against accidental drownings amongst children with the launch of the Swimanathi at uShaka Marine World (USM) recently.
Speaking in the wake of at least two tragic drownings of young learners at the very beginning of the 2020 academic year, USM CEO, Dr Stella Khumalo, thanked the sponsors who had once again joined forces to provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds with an opportunity to learn how to swim through the annual Swimanathi.
She pointed out that, as many activities at USM focused on families and children, having fun in an aquatic environment as well as water safety were two things that were particularly important to Africa’s largest marine theme park.
“We believe that it is important for uShaka Marine World, as both a brand and an iconic tourism destination in Durban, to be involved in projects that not only enhance community development but also promote safety – and water safety in particular. That’s why we have made our facilities available so that children who would not ordinarily have an opportunity to learn to swim can do so through the Swimanathi Project,” she said.
The Swimanathi Project was launched in 2016 by the then MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha. To date, 520 children have been taught to swim.
The rationale behind the initiative is that the majority of non-fee paying schools do not have facilities where they could learn to swim or the resources to pay teachers. As a result, many young lives are lost in tragic incidents that could be avoided.
“During the height of the summer season when everyone in this seaside city is drawn to the water, we lose precious children to unnecessary and tragic drownings. That’s because so many of our children cannot swim – a symptom of the fact that children from disadvantaged backgrounds do not get the opportunity to learn to swim even when they grow up close to the water,” Dr Khumalo noted.
One such school is Addington Primary from which the majority of children taking part in the Swimanathi come.
The Principal of Addington Primary, Raj Moodley, thanked all of the sponsors for their contributions and said that the school was, once again, delighted to be part of this programme. He said both the school’s governing body and parents would like to see this continue for many years to come.
Children who are participating this year will be divided into groups for their swimming lessons. The lessons began over the weekend of 25 and 26 January and continue during the weekends of the 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 February and 1 March.
The Department of Sports and Recreation will send lifeguards, Jump City will provide the inflatables, a photographer, a videographer and medals for all the participating children while GeoChem will sponsor sunblock and Mabliza Lifestyle will pay for the child minders.
Helene Herbert from SA Lifesaving , who will sponsor the 15 instructors for the programme said the organization was also delighted to be back on board. She said the success of the project was reflected in the fact that the very same lifeguards who had acted as instructors last year, were all eager to be on board again this year.
“What these children are about to learn is so important, and will never be forgotten. It is basically one of life’s most important skills, added uShaka Sea World Director and head of SAAMBR, Dr Tony McEwan.
Tsogo Sun KZN Hotels proudly supports uShaka Marine World in its fourth “learn to swim” campaign aimed at reducing the high incidence of drownings in the province. As a leading leisure brand located along Durban’s Golden mile, we are passionate about this project and committed to seeing more youngsters swim safely in our beaches.Ensuring that the children were properly attired for their lessons, Tsogo Sun sponsored swim gear, towels and lunch for each participant.
Gavin Kearns from Jump City agreed, saying that the the 520 children that had already learned to swim could very well be those that pay it forward and teach others how to be water safe one day.