Many children have the opportunity to learn to swim during primary school. However those who come from other countries and go into Secondary school often miss the chance to learn to swim.
Learning to swim at a young age is a key to social engagement in Australia. It provides the mechanism for social inclusion and fun for young people.
Many newly arrived Australians do not have the money to pay for swimming lessons.
A Sports Without Borders grant for Whittlesea Community Conections sent 10 boys and girls, aged 12-16 from Sudna, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Iraq to learn to swim.
Although they were reluctant to undress they confronted their fears and became more comfortable and with guidance worked through the issues together.
The particpants learned that swimming is a very low impact exercise and engaged with people outside their familiy and schools, broadening their understanding and ability to interact with other people and enjoyed socialising with other young people in the pool. It also gave the parents a day off from looking after their kids.
The establishment of relationships and partnerships with the Leisure Centres was an important outcome - while working with the pools presented challenges, WCC has good relationship with them now they are supportive of WCC and future programs will be much easier.