More than one million free Water Skills for life lessons in Auckland Celebrated

by Aktive
Published on Monday 19 April, 2021

(From L to R):Chris Severne, Trustee, Foundation North; Dean Lawrence, Water Safety New ZealandGraham Child, Aktive Board Chair; Dr Sarah Sandley, Aktive Chief Executive; Geoff Barry, General Manager Community Activation, Sport New Zealand; Dave Stewart, Head of Active Recreation, Auckland Council.


A significant milestone of Water Skills for Life in Auckland has been marked – more than one million free lessons across the region in ten years.


Water Skills for Life is managed in Tāmaki Makaurau by Aktive, in partnership with community delivery partners CLM Community Sport, Harbour Sport, Sport Auckland and Sport Waitākere. The initiative targets low decile schools (1 to 6) with years 3 to 6 students accessing 8 to 10 free, professionally-delivered lessons, ensuring the development of fundamental water skills for life.


The landmark celebration took place at Peninsula Primary School with funders Foundation North, Water Safety New Zealand, Auckland Council and Sport New Zealand acknowledged, along with community delivery partners and swim providers.


Dr Sarah Sandley, Aktive CE, says the event was a special occasion for a number of reasons.


“When we initially planned for this event last year we were aligning it with our one millionth lesson – then COVID-19 came along and here we are a year later, celebrating one million, two hundred and ninety thousand free Water Skills for Life lessons across Auckland,” says Dr Sandley.


“Knowing how to swim and survive around water saves lives, and significant ongoing support has seen this initiative go from strength to strength over the past decade. The coordination of an initiative of this scale is immense – our funders’ commitment  is truly appreciated; our community delivery partners contribute significant value  at a local level with schools and kura; and the swim providers are key in bringing this to life.”


Dr Sandley adds: “Water Skills for Life makes a real difference to tamariki, whānau, schools and communities. We are incredibly proud to work with Foundation North, Water Safety New Zealand, Auckland Council and Sport New Zealand, and our community delivery partners and swim providers, and together to have achieved this  milestone together.”


Chris Severne, Deputy Chair of long-standing funder Foundation North talks of the growth and success of the initiative.


“Foundation North prioritises solutions that place children and young people at the centre and supports activity that will lead to thriving tamariki, rangatahi and whānau – we want our funding to enhance the lives of people in our communities,” says Mr Severne.


“From the start Foundation North recognised the benefits of Water Skills for Life in delivering water safety skills to children, and our support has grown over the years given the close alignment with our strategy, particularly to positively impact Māori and Pacific communities and the lives of our tamariki. We would like to acknowledge the strength of the partnership we have enjoyed with Aktive and we look forward to this continuing.”


The event comprised acknowledgements to funders and swim providers, a Water Skills for Life lesson with children from Peninsula Primary School, and an announcement of an initiative name change from the Greater Auckland Aquatic Action Plan (GAAAP) to Water Skills for Life, an existing brand from Water Safety New Zealand.