Red Cross swim project improves safety in China

Water safety for children in China is getting an upgrade thanks to a team of Canadian Red Cross master instructor trainers.

Anne Porteous is putting her job as a recreation programmer at Qualicum’s Ravensong Aquatic Centre on hold as she travels to China to train water safety instructors in that country.

Anne Porteous is putting her job as a recreation programmer at Qualicum’s Ravensong Aquatic Centre on hold as she travels to China to train water safety instructors in that country.

Water safety for children in China is getting an upgrade thanks to a team of Canadian Red Cross master instructor trainers.

Nanaimo’s Anne Porteous is among the three master instructors leaving for Xiamen, China today (Oct. 20), spending 10 days assisting with the China Water Safety Project, a pilot project to improve water safety for children.

A recreation programmer for the Regional District of Nanaimo at Qualicum’s Ravensong Aquatic Centre, Porteous has been a volunteer for the Red Cross for close to 25 years and will help train 20 water safety instructors by adapting the Canadian Red Cross Learn to Swim Program to fit the Chinese cultural context.

Canadian Red Cross and World Health Organization reports rank drowning as No. 1 among unnatural deaths of youth in China.

“Living on an island surrounded by water, we encourage our children to learn to swim. It’s a life skill,” said Porteous. “In China, it’s not recognized as a life skill. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The project to implement the model in China began two years ago, and if the Xiamen pilot is successful, the Red Cross hopes to expand the project throughout the country.

Porteous said she is excited by the mission and believes they will be successful in changing the way people learn about water and safety issues because of the successful model they have in place.

“To be honest, I am very honoured to be able to do this. It is pretty exciting,” she said. “They believe in me as a volunteer and us as a group to be committed to go over and basically change people’s lives.”

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