New partnership renews push for zero pre-schooler drownings by 2020

A new partnership between YMCA Auckland, Plunket and Auckland Council is increasing the push for zero drownings in the under-five age group across Auckland.

The partnership, which takes effect from Monday 29th April 2019, is being driven by YMCA Auckland and will see the not-for-profit’s Swim School programme run out of eight Auckland pools rather than the current four.

In 2017, seven children under the age of five drowned in New Zealand, that’s two more than in 2016. Of those seven fatalities, five occurred in home pools. In that same year, a further 26 children were hospitalised as a result of near fatal drowning incidents.

“By adding four Auckland Council run pools to the list, we’ll have all of Auckland covered. By increasing our reach, we give more Auckland pre-schoolers access to potentially life-saving knowledge and education,” says Karla McCaughan, YMCA Auckland Swim School Quality Services Manager.

Plunket’s Northern Regional Operations Manager Sam Ferreira says the new partnership is a fantastic opportunity to work towards zero drownings for Auckland pre-schoolers.

“Plunket works every day to build the confidence and knowledge of families and whānau, and we’re delighted to be able to provide half price swimming lessons to our Auckland families and support their confidence around water safety.”

Since 2017, YMCA Auckland and Plunket have worked together to deliver water safety sessions to 17,500 pre-schoolers via the four Auckland Council pools run by YMCA Auckland: Lagoon Pool and Leisure Centre, Onehunga War Memorial Pool, Cameron Pool and Leisure Centre, and Glen Innes Pool and Leisure Centre.

The four Auckland Council owned and operated pools being added to the list are: Tepid Baths, West Wave Pool and Leisure Centre, Albany Stadium Pool, and Manurewa Pool and Leisure Centre.

Auckland pre-schoolers aged three months to five years will have access to half price swimming and water safety lessons at all eight sites.

Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of the Council’s Environment and Community Committee, says working with organisations like Plunket and YMCA is a great example of Auckland Council partnering with the non-profit sector to support community initiatives.

“Being safe around water – whether it’s a pool, at the beach or river – is essential to living an active life in Auckland. This partnership will equip our young people with the knowledge and skills to be safe and survive in and around water.”

Auckland Council’s Head of Active Recreation Rob McGee says jumping on board the initiative was a no-brainer.

“This partnership with YMCA and Plunket gives us a great opportunity to reach more young Aucklanders and their families to ensure the whole whānau knows how to swim and are educated on basic water safety skills.”

Another five council pools will be brought into the fold over the next three years.

“I’ll be training and educating all Auckland Council pool staff to ensure our water safety product is consistent across all eight sites. If a family goes to Cameron Pool or any other site they’ll get the same level of service and education. Consistency is key,” says McCaughan.

“Together we are helping shape a more water-safety aware Auckland.”

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