Council dips its toe in new water safety program

On the back of the success of a four-week program to encourage people with disabilities to develop their water skills, Ipswich City Council’s SEAL Pool Safety Program has already begun planning for a new round later this year.

After dipping their toe in the water and partnering with the Royal Life Saving Queensland’s Water STAARS (Support to Access Aquatic Recreational Spaces) Program, council has been buoyed by the success of the new program.

Participant Allen Baguiao is helped along by a his carer during the recent Water STAARS (Support to Access Aquatic Recreational Spaces) Program which focussed on water skills and safety for Ipswich residents with a disability.

Ipswich City Council Chief Executive Officer Sonia Cooper said council staff were fielding questions from parents and carers at Orion Lagoon who were watching the final session of the program.

“The classes were a mixture of water activities and fun lagoon deck games for those involved and there was great feedback from the seven participants in this first course,” Ms Cooper said.

“Our SEAL program identified there was a gap in our water education programs and this course has allowed a new group of Ipswich citizens to participate in a safe, supportive and educational environment with a focus on real life skills that many of us take for granted.

“Getting enquiries from the community while the event was being held just goes to show what a great environment the Royal Life Saving Queensland’s qualified disability instructors provide. Everyone could see that everyone was being engaged and participating.”

Royal Surf Lifesaving Queensland Instructor Joshua Jones urges Alexis Ingram to finish one of the many activities on the final day of the Water STAARS program.

Royal Life Saving Service Queensland Senior Education Officer Beverley Newton praised council’s involvement in the program.

“It was a great group over the four weeks and every participant came back each week and you can tell they were enjoying it as much as we do teaching. I hope to do this again with council it is a really valuable partnership,” Ms Newton said.

“The program focuses on water safety, becoming more comfortable around water and giving people the confidence to participate in water activities with their friends and family.”

The winning team of the tug-of-war activity at the final Water STAARS session celebrate their victory. The teams were made up of participants and their carers with the participant team of Steven Franz, Alexis Ingram and Eva O’Sullivan proving too strong on the day.

The Water STAARS (Support To Access Aquatic Recreational Spaces) Program is designed to support people with disabilities to feel confident and empowered to access the water safely. Participants engage in a range of exciting and educational activities with a focus on sun safety and signage, personal water safety and rescue techniques.

Council has already begun the process for a new program later this year and Ms Cooper encouraged parents, guardians and carers with questions to reach out to council directly to discuss any questions or requests regarding the Water STAARS Program.

Booking for the next round will be essential and initial enquiries can be made to council’s pool safety team by telephone on 3810 6120 or email [email protected].

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