Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates of death by drowning in the world.
Lack of water safety knowledge is just one of the contributing factors to the country’s high drowning rate, and Michelle Ling, Aquatics Director at Knox Leisureworks, has been working hard to change this.
Last year Michelle participated in Life Saving Victoria’s Building Leaders program, with the support of YMCA Victoria. During her six month scholarship, her main project was to develop a basic swimming and water safety program, with the aim to bring this program to the Sri Lanka YMCA community.
“After reading the Sri Lanka Drowning Report, I was inspired to make a difference to the Sri Lankan water safety culture,” said Michelle. “I was also excited by the challenge of creating and implementing a swimming and water safety program in a developing country.”
With the goal to help provide more learning and development opportunities for swimming teachers in Sri Lanka and to help increase the number of swimming lesson programs available in low socioeconomic areas, the scholarship saw Michelle create a set of tailored lesson plans, a teaching guide and a coaching course.
She then made her way to Sri Lanka where she successfully delivered this training to 50 locals with the help of two other YMCA Victoria volunteers.
Hearing reports of more drownings during this time only strengthened Michelle’s sense of determination to make a difference and reminded her of the importance of the work they were doing.
This year, Michelle was asked to mentor another YMCA Victoria participant in 2016’s Building Leaders program. After three months, they delivered more training to another 25 Sri Lankans.
They were then given the opportunity to watch the coaches deliver their program to 79 children – a very rewarding experience.
“We received an overwhelming response of gratitude from all participants of the training program,” Michelle said. “They told us how they were going to use this training to help increase water safety knowledge in their communities and how thankful they were for us to have shared our time and knowledge.”
This week (28 November – 4 December) is Water Safety Week. YMCA Victoria is committed to promoting water safety knowledge, skills and awareness both locally and globally.