Otago children face life or death water survival training

  • 30/01/2018
They face being re-assessed in three months to see what they've learnt.
They face being re-assessed in three months to see what they've learnt. Photo credit: iStock

An Otago initiative is bringing rivers and beaches into survival training for children.

Children aged between seven to 11 years took part in a new initiative teaching water safety and survival skills in real world open-water environments such as beaches, harbours and rivers.

To see if the programme, in Dunedin, was successful the 120 children who took part will be assessed in three months time to see if they remember what they have learnt.

When kids are taught in the pool, they have improved quickly, but they don't retain the information for too long, says University of Otago water safety expert Associate Professor Chris Button.

"So we really want to see and hopefully find that the children have been able to remember what they have been taught; that they will be able to understand and see what a rip current is, for example," he said.

"That will give us more confidence in the future as they become adults that they have learned some of these things."

But even if the programme proves successful, Assoc Prof Button believes it would be currently unrealistic to expect it to be added to New Zealand's primary school curriculum.

"I'm not sure schools have that capacity to deliver what we've done this week, so maybe it's a question of partnering as we've done with support organisations, all of whom have been keen to share their knowledge and information with children."