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The Chairperson of the Sport and Recreation Portfolio Committee in the Provincial Legislature, Lizzy Shabalala has lauded the Siyaswima Water Safety programme for teaching disadvantaged children swimming skills to minimize the rate of drownings.

Shabalala represented MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Bongi-Sithole Moloi at the event to mark end of the training session for almost 200 children, child minders and educators at Nyanya Resort in Ulundi in northern KZN.

The programme which was staggered over three consecutive week-ends is part of the Water Safety Campaign launched by MEC Sithole-Moloi in December last year.

The government funded initiative is run in partnership with KZN Aquatics as implementers. It focusses on areas where children are forced to cross rivers to go to schools and equips them with swimming skills as well as water safety awareness.

 Shabalala told the children that they were the fortunate generation as such opportunities were not open to everyone in the past.

“I am confident this will arm you with skills that will go a long way in reducing the alarming rate of drownings in the Province,” she said. She said MEC Sithole-Moloi has given a commitment that the initiative would be sustained and spread to other districts.

Children who were part of the Ulundi programme made significant progress over the past three weekends.  The climax of the programme was an informal contest where they had to compete against each other to showcase what they have learned.

Many of the children were getting into water for the first at the training and the majority of them were now able to swim across the swimming pool unassisted.

Young Amahle Ngema said the programme was very beneficial.” I have learned a lot and the programme has removed my fear of water,” she said.

“We learned how to swim and after this we will be able to train others just like what our instructors are doing,” added Melusi Khumalo.

Qiniso Zulu from eScoco Primary said he has learned how to save a person from drowning.

The swimming instructors were also equally pleased with the enthusiasm with which the programme was received by the Ulundi learners. One of the instructors Khombi Ngcamu said she hoped the knowledge that they have impacted to the children will be cascaded down to assist others.

The DSR and Department of Education officials were confident that the training programme will assist in unearthing the swimming talent amongst the previously disadvantaged learners.

The Siyaswima programme will soon be rolled out to all other districts in an effort to curtail the alarming number of drownings in the Province.

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