Lib Dem Councillor, Sarah Brown, who heads up public health, sports and leisure and children’s services on the City Council, has been busy putting in place a new initiative aimed at teaching disadvantaged children to swim.Figures show that increasing numbers of children reach secondary school age unable to swim two lengths of a pool, or at all. This is especially prevalent amongst children from poorer families, children with certain disabilities, and some ethnic minority groups.
“When I heard about the increasing number of children who couldn’t swim, I was shocked”, said Sarah.
“Swimming is a vital life skill. Not only is it a fantastic way to keep fit and healthy, and great for mental health, but knowing how to swim can also save your life.”
“I’d just taken over running the council’s swimming pools, public health and children’s services, and I thought that there must be something we can do to help.”
Bringing together council officers from public health, the council’s play service (ChYpPS) and leisure management, Sarah asked them to work together to develop a scheme to target those children least likely to have strong swimming skills and deliver free, targeted swimming lessons tailored specifically towards them.
“We have contact with children from all communities and backgrounds through ChYpPS, we have a responsibility for public health, and we have 4 swimming pool sites, including a custom built learner pool at Kings Hedges”, said Sarah.
“Working with our new leisure partners, GLL, who manage our pools for us, and other partners we’re going to get kids swimming who otherwise would likely never learn”
The new scheme is expected to be up and running early in 2014.