Spirit Carnival 2019

14 November 2019

160 children from 11 Pilbara schools have gathered together at the South Hedland Aquatic Centre today for the 5th annual Pilbara Spirit Swimming and Lifesaving Carnival. The carnival is part of a two-day Pilbara Aquatic Festival, thanks to funding provided by Principal Community Partner BHP and the Town of Port Hedland, which has also seen local children and adults take part in a variety of activities including a community BBQ, cultural awareness training and a pool lifesaving development session.

Aboriginal children with a swim instructor in the poolRoyal Life Saving WA data shows that Aboriginal children are 8.6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal drowning incident that non-Aboriginal children in our state. Overall, 35.7% of fatal drowning incidents involved Aboriginal children. We're working hard to address these statistics, by focusing attention on swimming and lifesaving programs for children in regional and remote areas, with a special focus on remote aboriginal communities.

The Pilbara Spirit Swimming and Lifesaving Carnival has grown significantly year on year since its inception in 2015, and is enabling Royal Life Saving WA to make significant inroads into drowning prevention amongst Aboriginal children in regional WA. It gives the children an opportunity to get together and showcase the swimming and lifesaving skills they have learnt throughout the year via the Swim and Survive and Swim for Fruit programs, which are supported by Principal Community Partner BHP, Healthway, and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

The schools involved this year include Baler Primary School, Cassia Primary School, Jigalong Remote Community School, Marble Bar Primary School, Nullagine Primary School, Port Hedland Primary School, Roebourne District Primary School, South Hedland Primary School, St Cecelia’s Catholic Primary School, Tom Price Primary School and Yandeyarra Remote Community School, with the children collectively travelling more than 1800 kilometres to attend the event!

Royal Life Saving WA Pilbara Development Officer Jacqui Forbes says the event is more than just your average school swimming carnival. “The children have the opportunity to take part in the usual swimming races, but also traditional boat races and lifesaving activities, along with having an opportunity to try water polo and synchronised swimming. To round out the experience the kids were then treated to a special BBQ lunch. The wide range of activities involved has made the carnival extremely popular with schools across the region!”

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education, Trent Hotchkin says the hope is that the children involved in this carnival will make a real difference in the future of their communities. “By enabling these children to take part in our Swim and Survive swimming and water safety program and enjoy events like the Spirit Carnival we hope to see them lead a generational change, learning skills to become the future lifesavers in remote and regional WA. We want to give these children the opportunity to not only learn skills to keep themselves safe while in, on and around water, but also to equip them to encourage all community members to develop lifesaving swimming skills.”

You can find out more about Royal Life Saving's work in the Pilbara at the link below.

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