Donations to save children’s lives

Published 12:00pm 10 February 2023

Donations to save children’s lives
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A Brisbane-based water safety expert is on a mission to ensure all children in the Moreton Bay Region have access to life-saving swimming lessons and the right swim gear.

Eve Fraser, who is the Charter President and founder of the newly established Global Water Safety and Drowning Prevention (GWSDP) Rotary Club, collects new and used swim gear for children in need as part of the newly launched Dip program.

The second annual Dip program is part of a suite of programs collectively called The Swimming Gift, all run by the GWSDP Rotary Club.

When Eve discovered school chaplains were using their own money to buy swim gear for students, she knew she had to step in.

“Chaplains are not paid a high wage and are expected to fundraise to supplement their income,” Eve says.

“This is not acceptable to expect these hardworking family people to buy swimwear and towels for their students.”

Eve has already given donations to a school in Strathpine, while another school in Clontarf is also set to receive help.

She is also hoping to source swim nappies for a special school in the region so children with bladder and bowel control issues can also participate in swimming lessons.

Donations to save children’s lives
Above: Eve Fraser (left) collects donated swimming gear from Masters Swimming Queensland President Susanne Milenkevich. 

Zoggs Australia has donated more than $500 worth of stock to the Dip Program, while Masters Swimming Queensland and YMCA South Australia have collected more than $1000 worth of goods from donation drives.

Masters Swimming Queensland President Susanne Milenkevich says she is pleased to learn the donated goods are going to Moreton Bay students.

“Our members will be thrilled to hear they are helping children and families in need in our own state to help promote, nourish and grow the future of water safety here in Queensland,” Susanne says.

“We look forward to future donation drives to help support the efforts of the GWSDP Rotary Club and continuing to work to help swimmers of all ages learn and grow their skills, here and around Australia and the world.”

Jennifer Nel from Scripture Union – a non-profit that employs more than 500 chaplains across Queensland - is helping distribute the goods to schools identified by chaplains as being in need.

“As more schools hear about his partnership, I think the partnership will strengthen and we will start to get an idea of what the real need is and whether we can look at working across the states with schools nationally,” Jennifer explains.

“Swimming is a life skill and we want to support all students to engage with this learning opportunity at school.”

Donations to save children’s lives
Above: Eve receiving the University of Southern Queensland Alumnus of the Year award in 2020 for her work in water safety and drowning prevention. 

Ensuring no child misses out

With more than 40 years as an experienced swimming teacher, Eve has helped implement water safety programs in countries such as Thailand, India, China, Cambodia, Dubai and Uganda, but says there’s still significant room for improvement in Australia.

Later this year, the GWSDP Rotary Club will launch an aquatic education program targeting children on the Sunshine Coast who struggle to participate in mainstream swimming lessons, due to launch in the September school holidays.

The club is also in discussions with Swim Australia to train swimming teachers in Australian mining towns and remote communities.

“Every day we come up with more ways to support our communities,” Eve says,

She also says the club’s focus has quickly shifted from simply raising and allocating funds to addressing the underlying issues that prevent equal access to water safety classes.

The delivery, completion requirements and allocation of funds around swimming lessons, as well as children not being able to participate because they don’t have the correct resources like swimming costumes and goggles, has left many children in Australia lacking life-saving water skills.

Royal Life Saving Australia estimates 40 per cent leave primary school not being able to swim 50 metres or float for two minutes.

“With insufficient teachers, and families not able to afford swimming gear like goggles, towels and a bag for children to participate, access to swimming lessons becomes more about the barriers to participation than just the money,” Eve explains.

Eve plans to expand The Swimming Gift initiative nationwide so no child in Australia misses out on essential swimming lessons, bringing her one step closer to her ultimate goal of ensuring every child in the world can swim by the time they finish primary school.

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