“Kids need to swim” – Minister

 In News

“Helping our kids learn to swim is an important part of the McGuinty government’s plan to ensure that students develop the skills they need to lead healthier, more active lives …..” (full press release below)

Hon Sandra Pupatello (then Education Minister)  May 15, 2006

Ministry of Education
More Than 30,000 Grade 3 Students To Learn Water Survival Skills
    Ontario Government And Lifesaving Society Team Up To Help Kids Learn To
    Be Water Safe
    TORONTO, May 15 (2006)/CNW/ – More than 30,000 Grade 3 students will benefit
from a new program that will teach them how to survive an unexpected fall into
deep water, Education Minister Sandra Pupatello said today.
    "Helping our kids learn to swim is an important part of the McGuinty
government's plan to ensure that students develop the skills they need to lead
healthier, more active lives," said Pupatello. "That's why we are pleased to
partner with the Lifesaving Society's Swim to Survive Program."
    As part of its Healthy Schools plan, the Ontario government is supporting
the Lifesaving Society's Swim to Survive program through a one-time grant of
$935,700. The three-step Swim to Survive program focuses on being able to do a
single skill series: roll into deep water, tread water for one minute and swim
50 metres.
    The Society invites expressions of interest from boards of education and
pool owner/operators such as municipalities who want to make Swim to Survive
training a reality in their boards.
    "Summer is almost upon us, and summer is synonymous with water play,"
says Barbara Byers, Public Education Director for the Lifesaving Society.
"With almost 50 per cent of Canadians admitting that they've experienced or
witnessed a near accident, it's critically important to ensure that Canadians,
and especially children, have the swimming skills they need to survive an
unexpected fall into water this summer."
    According to a new study sponsored by The Lifesaving Society, almost all
Canadians (98 per cent) agree that swimming is a life skill that every child
should learn, and 92 per cent believe that swimming instruction should be
provided through schools. In addition, 48 per cent of Canadians admit that
they've had an experience around water that caused them to fear for someone's
    Barbara Underhill, former Canadian world champion in pairs figure
skating, has been actively involved in promoting water safety and the Swim to
Survive program as a result of personal tragedy when her eight and a half
month old daughter Stephanie Gaetz drowned in the family's backyard pool
13 years ago.
    "It only takes a minute, even seconds, for a child to drown," said
Underhill. "For an investment of just a few hours of instruction, parents can
reduce the risk of a terrible tragedy. Having said that, the Swim to Survive
program is not meant to replace standard swimming lessons – it provides only
the minimal standard for survival."
    The Ontario government is making publicly funded schools healthier places
to learn. The government's plan includes funding to hire specialist teachers
in subject areas such as health and physical education and to help school
boards open up schools to non-profit community groups. It has also asked
school boards to remove junk food from vending machines in elementary schools,
has required 20 minutes of daily physical activity for elementary students and
enacted a law requiring every board to establish and maintain an anaphylaxis
    The Lifesaving Society, Canada's lifeguarding experts, is a charitable
organization working to prevent drowning and water-related injury through its
training programs, Water Smart® public education and safety management
services. Each year in Canada, the Society certifies more than 500,000 people
in its swim, lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership courses.
    For more information or to book an interview with Barbara Underhill or
    Barbara Byers, please contact:
    Jennifer Meneses                                    Barbara Byers
    Praxis Public Relations                    The Lifesaving Society
    905-949-8255 ext.221                                 416-490-8844
    416-898-5809 (cell)                           416-727-5636 (cell)
    jennifer@praxispr.ca              barbarab@lifeguarding.com
    Disponible en français
For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister Pupatello's Office,
(416) 212-3747; Tanya Blazina, Education Communications Branch,          
(416) 325-2746; Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514,       
TTY: 1-800-263-2892


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