VULNERABLE children in the Leeton shire community who may not otherwise have access to swimming lessons have been given the chance to learn this vital life school.
The Leeton Yanco Swiming Club is co-ordinating the program after receiving a community strengthening grant from Leeton Shire Council.
The initiative is the first of its kind that the club has held and has been operating at the Leeton Regional Aquatic Centre over the past fortnight, with instructors from the club giving their time to teach and guide.
"Leeton Yanco Swimming Club's mission includes the development of water safety," club president Sally Hill said.
"However, we recognise there are vulnerable children in our community that do not have access to formal swimming lessons, placing them at higher risk of drowning.
"The main benefit to the community is that of improved water safety.
"(The club) believes water safety around our waterways, including irrigation channels, to be a high priority for all children.
"This project focuses on a disadvantaged group within our community and gives them access to water safety training.
"It also encourages physical activity and exposes children to another option for physical exercise and sporting endeavour. It fosters co-operation between four community groups, strengthening community ties."
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The groups the club has been working with are the Leeton Community Care Development Inc (LCCD), the Leeton Aboriginal Education and Consultative Group and the Leeton and District Aboriginal Land Council.
These groups have provided referrals, encouraged participation and circulated information to participants. The LCCD has also provided their bus for transport to and from the lessons, while instructors Lauren Brett and Ginger Longford and other senior club swimmers have been helping lead the lessons.
The grant from council was used to cover Swiming NSW registration and insurance for the participants and pool entry fees. "We're pretty happy with the numbers," Mrs Hill said.
"There's certainly a need there and it's definitely a program we would like to run again. We've had discussions about that and it's something council wants to see continue.
"We've run this as a pilot program, but we'll sit down at the end of it and work out any changes we might make. Swimming is such an important life skill that all kids have a right to learn.
"Hopefully this program also shows that we are wanting to be a community organisation ... not just a competitive organisation."
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