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EMS Students Teach Orphans To Swim

Author: Institutional Advancement: (021) 959 2625

Three students from UWC’s School of Business and Finance (SBF) in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences are spreading joy and saving lives by teaching water safety to children from the Rainbow of Hope Orphanage.

​Learn to Swim – UWC

Spontaneous laughter, some splashing and kicking marked some fun-filled activity at the swimming pools of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) this past weekend as the children of Rainbow of Hope Orphanage​ in Goodwood were taught to become increasingly water safe.

But it was off to a shivery start for the children at their very first lesson, thanks to unexpected maintenance to the swimming pool’s heating system. But this didn’t stop them from wanting to test the waters and learn the basics of safety in and around the pool.

These water safety lessons The orphanage was chosen asare part of an outreach project of three UWC Economics and Management Sciences students.  They chose to teach the children this particular skill since there are many South Africans who are not able to swim – and who could easily lose their lives just because they don't possess this essential skill.

One of the students, Bonginkosi Jack, who braved the cold water himself to ensure the safety of these children between ages four and 13., said they particularly chose the children to be taught this skill since there are many South Africans who are not able to swim and who could easily lose their lives just because they don't possess this essential skill.

“Not being able to swim is the cause of too many unnecessary drownings, and we wanted to equip the children of Rainbow of Hope to become water safe – and, of course, to see a smile on their faces,” Jack said.

UWC swimming coach Keith Dankers and student coach Khanyiso Zase taught the kids to enter the pool, facing the water, encouraged them  to swim with their eyes open to familiarise themselves with the slight burning sensation of swimming pool water, and how to make their way towards the edge of the pool  if ever they’re in trouble.

“The plan is to have them come here on a regular basis until they've reached a level where they are confident in the water, without fear of having their head submerged under water,” Jack explained. “Also so they could have enough confidence to know they will be able to help themselves to get to safety if they should ever fall into trouble.”

The children are in permanent care of housemother, Alison Alexander, who has also adopted a daughter Zoë, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

“I really appreciate what the students want to do for these children by trying to make them water safe.”.  

“Many of these children have either been abused, abandoned or neglected and this water safety is a valuable skill for them to have,” she said.

“Some of their mothers are spending time in drug rehabilitation centres, but will eventually claim their children once they’ve overcome their addiction. ”

“As for the rest, there is still an option for adoption, but the tendency with the public is to only want to adopt children when they are babies. We have four siblings who have to be adopted together, but the chances of this happening is very slim,” she explained.

The EMS  students have no plans to halt the lessons any time soon.

“The plan is to have them come here on a regular basis until they've reached a level where they are confident in the water, without fear of having their head submerged under water,” Jack said.  “Also so they could have enough confidence to know they will be able to help themselves to get to safety if they should ever fall into trouble – that’s the most important part.”

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