Swim class teaches respect for the ocean

| 11/07/2017
CNS Local Life

Children attending a swimming programme held earlier this year

(CNS Local Life): A group of 10 Caymanian children is learning to swim and snorkel through the West Bay ECO Warriors programme hosted by a local hotel. The children, all between the ages of 8 and 10, meet every Thursday to learn skills taught through PADI swim school and the YMCA, the latter which supports the programme along with the Ministry of Education. The classes are held at Sunset House and organised by hotel staffer Emma-Jane Fisher.

“After living and working on different Caribbean Islands I found that local kids generally do not receive formal swim training as part of their school curriculum and I think that is a missed opportunity and here at Sunset House we want to change that,” Fisher said in a press release.

The ministry has identified the enrollees as children at risk, and the programme gives them an activity to look forward to and water skills to make them safer, but a broader goal is to raise awareness of ocean conservation and enhance national pride in their home and its seafaring heritage.

“By introducing young Caymanians to swimming and snorkelling, we want to make them aware of Cayman’s outstanding watersports tourism product,” Fisher said. “The hope is that they can eventually make a career for themselves in tourism.”

Guest speakers are part of the curriculum to educate and entertain the children, with topics focusing on the marine environment and how to protect and preserve it.

Fisher also speaks to classrooms during the school year to promote water safety and ocean conservation. She encourages the older students to try diving with the hope that they will continue their scuba education to become rescue divers or divemasters.

“The overall goal is to produce future dive-tourism professionals from the Cayman Islands who are aware of and proud of their island’s beauty and marine environment, which is among the best in the world,” said Fisher.

Hotel general manager Keith Sahm, added: “This programme is one of many community and special projects that Sunset House and Sunset Divers are involved in, including Force Blue and Save Cayman.”

Force Blue is a nonprofit programme that engages and trains combat divers to participate in coral restoration, thus giving the men a mission to save reefs while also helping Cayman’s reefs. Save Cayman is a grassroots, nonprofit organisation that advocates for environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism in the Cayman Islands.

Fisher added that the swim programme, which is run entirely on donations, is a vital first step in engaging children and spurring their interest in watersports, but they are facing a challenge.

“Unfortunately, the Cayman Islands Government has cut its funding for the programme, so we are always running in deficit,” she said. “We’d greatly appreciate help, financial or otherwise, to keep these kids safe and lead them into further education as they grow older.”

To help the ECO Warriors programme with donations, swimming equipment, snacks or transportation email Emma-Jane Fisher or call Sunset House at 1 (800) 854-4767.

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Category: Community, Environment, Marine Environment, Tourism

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