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Water Babies launches in Tauranga

Friday, November 8, 2013

Water Babies launches in Tauranga

Water Babies is a new programme launched last week in response to the high level of young children who are non-swimmers in the Bay of Plenty – a region rich in water play spaces.

The programme is a collaboration between Sport Bay of Plenty, Swimming New Zealand, CCS Disability Action Swim School, Bayswim Swim School, Relationship Aotearoa and Pirirakarau Hauora and provides six free learn to swim lessons for and toddlers in the Tauranga Area. 

Water Babies supports community organizations and gives families a fun and safe way to be active together. Water Babies was set up to provide lessons for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity and the weekly lessons give families the confidence and knowledge to enjoy the water with their under-fives. At the beginning of the programme, all parents/caregivers receive a 15 minute workshop from Swimming NZ on how to teach their children to swim and to give them confidence when taking their children swimming.

Water Babies is funded by the Active Healthy Strong Community Partnership Fund and 80 children will have participated by Christmas.

The first Water Babies lessons took place on Friday at the Greerton Aquatic Centre, with a full class. Aroha and her son Peter who is 22months old was very happy to be participating in the programme as her son has never been in a pool before. Mum Aroha comments ‘He doesn’t like water; I can’t even lay him back in the bath and wash his hair’. Watching Peter in his lesson today he was initially grabbing hold of Mum and putting his legs up so his feet didn’t touch the water, but gradually he got into the water and had a lot of fun. Peter was jumping in and Mum was catching him, he was happy to have water on his head and looked like he really enjoyed being in the water. ‘I was really surprised’, said Peter’s Mum, ‘he’ll be looking forward to next week’. Aroha values the opportunity to have these lessons to help keep Peter safe around water.

Another participant in the class was Awhina and her daughter Tiara who is 4 years old.

Although Tiara hasn’t been swimming before, her mum was pleased with her daughter’s response and said ‘she really enjoyed playing the games today’. By the end of the first lesson Tiara was able to go under the water and swim through the hoop, kicking her legs to get her through. Awhina felt it was very special to be able to do something together with her daughter – Tiara is her baby, youngest of 4 children and they are really looking forward to next week.

After only one week of the six week programme, the progress was very real and it was great to see so many whanau coming along to the lessons, not only to watch but to lend a helping hand getting the children ready to go in the pool and looking after other children in the family. Participants will be asked for feedback at the end of the programme and there is a plan to continue with a new intake of families in the New Year.

The inaugural programme will continue over the month of November, which is also Sport Bay of Plenty’s Play in the Bay Water Month. The November Month calendars can be downloaded at www.sportbop.co.nz/novemberwatercalendars

Swimming NZ are holding a colour competition to encourage the young swimmers in the Bay of Plenty and can be downloaded at www.kiwiswimsfe.org.nz – resources page.

Photos http://flic.kr/s/aHsjLGCrbt

Further information about the WaterBabies Programme can be found by contacting

Denise Jones

Water Safety Advisor

Sport Bay of Plenty

07 578 0016

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