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June 9, 2006
City and school boards pool resources for “Swim to Survive” pilot
Today, the final set of students from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), participating in a pilot program designed to help school-age children survive an unintended fall into deep water, graduated from the program.

“How lovely that our two school Boards and the City have co-operated so well for the benefit of almost 600 children,” said Sheila Cary-Meagher, Trustee Ward 16. “What a great way to use the pools that we are blessed with. At full implementation, we will have provided over 34,000 elementary school children with skills to protect them from drowning. This is what education is all about. This is what co-operation is all about.”

The pilot program is the first of its kind in Toronto. It has come about as a result of a partnership between the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) and the Lifesaving Society. In all, approximately 600 Grades 3, 4, and 5 students are participating in the pilot program.

“This pilot program has accomplished two key things,” said Councillor Janet Davis, Chair of the Toronto Aquatic and Pool Strategy Working Group, responsible for developing and implementing the initiative. “First, almost 600 elementary school children have had an opportunity to swim and learn skills they may not have otherwise. And, second, the partnership between the City and the school boards is an example of the significant results that can be achieved - for our children and our community - by pooling resources and expertise.”

The City/school board partnership program utilizes and expands on the “Swim to Survive” curriculum designed by the Lifesaving Society. It focuses on teaching children three key skills: How to roll into deep water, tread water for one minute, and swim 50 metres. The City/school board pilot program will evaluate the effectiveness of teaching students these swimming survival skills in a total of three, five or seven, 45-minute lessons.

The TDSB program wraps up today, and the TCDSB program concludes on June 16. Over the summer, a team of staff will evaluate the results of the pilot program and bring forth a set of recommendations for a broader implementation.

Parents are reminded to supervise their children at all times in pools, wading pools and splash pads.

Media contacts:

Wynna Brown
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation
General Manager’s Office
416-791-3414 (cell)

Lori Abbott
Communications & Public Affairs
Toronto District School Board
416-697-0926 (cell)



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