January 3, 2018 9:47 am
Updated: January 4, 2018 1:34 pm

City partnering with Winnipeg School Division on water safety for students

WATCH: Winnipeg is floating a new pilot program adding water safety to the curriculum within the Winnipeg School Division. Global's Zahra Premji reports.

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The City of Winnipeg has launched a new pilot program to provide an introduction to water safety as part of the school curriculum within the Winnipeg School Division.

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Councillor Mike Pagtakhan and Winnipeg School Division (WSD) Board Trustee Mark Wasyliw made the announcement Wednesday morning at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex.

Pagtakhan said the Swimming Counts program will provide swimming and water safety instruction to 2,300 students in Grades 3 and 4 within the division’s 59 schools between January and June of 2018.

“Swimming and water safety are basic life skills that are so important for kids to learn from a young age,” Pagtakhan said.

“The pilot project partnership between the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg School Division is an important step towards teaching all children in the division equally to provide vital swimming education.”

The need for a wider approach to water safety was highlighted after a number of drownings involving children in 2016. The pilot program is in direct response to the tragedies.

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Wasyliw said the program will save lives.

“The Swimming Counts program is going to save lives by giving our students a basic level of survival skills when it comes to water,” Wasyliw said.

He said the school division is seeing a change in its demographic and there are more newcomer students than ever before.

“For many of our students this will be the first time they have ever been surrounded by waterways. We have immigrant students who are from landlocked countries with few, if any, rivers or lakes,” Wasyliw said.

Several other school divisions, including St. James Assiniboia, already have swimming lessons for students in select grades.

The Seven Oaks school division has a learn to swim program and in the River East Transcona division, some early years schools provide swimming lessons.

The Swimming Counts program will provide students with three 40-minute pool times as well as one hour of water safety education in the classroom.

– with files from Logan Caswell

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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