A new online training platform aims to reach millions of children with water safety messages by providing free specialist training for education and community specialists that work with the most at risk category for drowning, under-fives.
Kids Alive developed the program and has launched three training hubs; supporting early childhood educators, libraries and community organisations, and schools.
With learn to swim numbers dropping a minimum average of 20% over winter and 19% of drownings occurring in the cooler months*, the need to make sure children receive a level of water safety awareness in all seasons is paramount.
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Kids Alive founder Laurie Lawrence said unfortunately it was common practise for people to take a break from learning to swim in the cooler months and for water safety to be neglected.
"We need to make water safety and learn to swim a year-round activity and education opportunity, which is why we created these trainings."
Kids Alive national operations manager Emma Lawrence created the material in conjunction with industry experts across all sectors.
"Our aim is to reach more children through their typical place of learning including childcare, library storytime sessions, playgroups and schools," she said. "Libraries for example, see over 3 million little ones a year so just imagine if we were able to share water safety messages direct through this channel alone."
Ms Lawrence said the programs were well received with 1500 early childhood centres, 85 libraries and 9 schools completing the training already.
The training is delivered online via video modules, with access to downloadable course and resource materials relevant to the industry.
"The early education training aligns with current curriculum guidelines and was developed in conjunction with educators. Dive Into Books is the library module created after a trial with Ipswich Library. The school version is called Stage Shows and steps a school through how to host an educational pantomime for the community. "
Ms Lawrence said the initiative also aligned with the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030 by supporting the availability of education to the at risk 0-4 year old.
"Resources are tight for water safety, especially in regional areas, so this training is open to everyone and enables a community to take charge with educating children via a variety of channels. We hope to see more and more uptake of the Kids Alive trainings and more families aware of the dangers and how to combat them."
Jae Fraser Founder and Managing Director of Little Scholars School of Early Learning participated in the training along with his educators.
"At Little Scholars we are passionate about ensuring children are prepared for all areas of life, with water safety being an extremely important part of growing up in Australia," he said. "As part of this commitment, we offer weekly swimming lessons; taking a huge load off parents' shoulders when it comes to preventing accidents! Meanwhile in the classroom, we incorporate the Kids Alive early education program to reinforce the learning that the children do in the pool!"
Dalby State School was one of the first to perform the Stage Show and contributed materials used in the online training. Head of The Arts at Dalby High, Tara Routley, said the students and community loved being involved.
"Our lives, particularly in the warmer months, revolve around swimming and being in the water, which is why it is so important for young kids to learn water safety skills," she said.
"It's great to have fun in the water, but kids need to be aware of the dangers and stay safe and that's the message the stage show conveys."
The free training can be accessed at www.kidsalive.com.au via the Teachers Hub tab. Kids Alive also have books, puppets, and costumes available to support the programs.