by Samantha Vigus
Swim for Fruit Celebrates Ten Years
Royal Life Saving WA and Healthway have been working together for ten years to ensure children across regional Western Australia have an opportunity to improve their swimming and water safety skills, and learn about the importance of eating more fruit and vegetables, through the Go for 2&5 Swim for Fruit program.
Since 2009, 27,436 children have participated in the program across 6 remote communities and 13 regional areas.
The program encourages children in regional communities to swim laps at their local pool and rewards them for their swimming efforts with a healthy afternoon tea following each session.
Those achieving a prescribed amount of laps are also eligible to earn incentive prizes such as goggles, Swim & Survive packs, t-shirts and flippers.
Swim for Fruit is largely focused in Aboriginal communities, with an aim of increasing physical activity levels through swimming, lifesaving and aquatic sport programs, while also encouraging healthy eating of fruit and vegetables through the reward system.
It first began in Jigalong in 2009 before expanding to other regional and remote communities.
Evaluation of the program shows that it has been successful in engaging Aboriginal children in swimming and increasing fruit consumption.
This was largely due to the strong relationships pool managers created within the community, regular programming, targeting older children who may otherwise not attend, and creating strong links with local schools.
Trent Hotchkin, Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education says “Drowning data shows that over the past ten years there’s been a 62% reduction in the number of children aged 5-14 drowning in Western Australia.
"This age group continues to be one of the drowning prevention success stories and programs like Swim for Fruit are a big factor in this success.
“However, the data also reveals that 54% of drowning deaths in this age group happened in regional and remote areas of WA, and 27% involved Aboriginal children.
"We need to continue to focus our attention to ensure children in these parts of our state have access to swimming and water safety programs.”
Recently Healthway committed to funding Swim for Fruit for a further three years, which will also enable Royal Life Saving WA to extend the program to even more communities.
Healthway CEO Susan Hunt PSM said Healthway’s long term commitment to the Go for 2&5 Swim for Fruit Program was helping to make real change in our regional communities.
“We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Royal Life Saving WA to reach even more Western Australian children. The partnership delivers positive and fun activities which make a difference to young people’s health and safety right across regional and remote Western Australian,” Ms Hunt said.
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