ORANGE’S bid to improve children’s swimming abilities has received a boost, with the latest Merge program declared a success.
About 20 teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds took part in swimming lessons at Orange Aquatic Centre’s indoor pool.
About 60 per cent of them were unable to swim at the start of the program. By the end, 95 per cent were showing off their strokes.
Orange City Council Services Policy Committee chair and councillor Ron Gander said visiting the pool had not been part of the teenagers’ routine prior to the program.
“For a group of kids that didn’t want to go anywhere near the water, by the end you couldn’t get them out of the water,” he said.
The children visited the pool four times a week for the fortnight of the school holidays.
“As well as swimming, they were simply much more confident to be in the pool,” Cr Gander said.
“That’s a great life skill that will be important to any Australian in future years.
“As a community we need to work more on water safety and sessions like this are an important step in the right direction.”
Orange City Council is also working with schools on the possibility of making aquatic centre entry free for students, in response to anecdotal evidence from schools suggesting many primary school-aged children were not confident swimmers.
Other Merge activities during the two-week period included tenpin bowling, Muay Thai self-defence classes and visits to Odeon 5 Cinema and the Adventure Playground.
The next Merge program will run in the October school holidays with details to be confirmed.
For more information, contact the Community Information and Services Centre on 6393 8600.