Young leaders’ big leap makes a splash

Leap news paper photoA partnership between the YMCA and Aboriginal health service organisation Wirraka Maya has given Port Hedland’s promising young Indigenous leaders the chance to gain valuable water safety and lifesaving skills.

Fifteen girls aged from 10 to 14-years-old from Wirraka Maya’s Leap Leadership program kicked off the YMCA Perth’s 10-week Swim for Life program at the Gratwick Aquatic Centre on March 18.

The course will give the girls the opportunity to complete their Bronze Star or Bronze Medallion qualification.

In addition, girls who complete their Bronze Medallion have the opportunity to go on to gain employment as lifeguards.

YMCA Swim for Life coordinator Kate Tsorvas said the partnership with Wirraka Maya was an exciting first for the two organisations, who plan to work together in an ongoing collaborative effort.

“Gaining qualifications like the Bronze Star or Medallion gives girls from the Leap program invaluable first aid and water safety skills which are potentially life saving, as well as the opportunity to get fit and have fun at the same time,” she said.

“Their enthusiasm, commitment and hard work towards gaining these qualifications make these girls positive role models and future leaders for Port Hedland’s young Indigenous community.

“Having an all-female Swim for Life class is also beneficial for the girls in that they are comfortable and able to be themselves rather than competing with the boys.”

Wirraka Maya project officer Joanie Doran said Wirraka Maya was very grateful to the Pilbara Community Development Education Projects committee, who generously sponsored the girls’ participation in Swim for Life.

“The girls from the Wirraka Maya Leap program are very excited to complete the Swim For Life program,” she said.

“Leap is a leadership program which helps youth develop their leadership skills and strive for achievements in a structured environment.

“Leap aims to enhance problem-solving and decision-making skills while improving self-esteem and I believe the Swim For Life program will assist the girls in reaching these personal goals.”

YMCA Perth’s award winning Swim for Life program celebrates its fifth anniversary in the Pilbara this year and is committed to creating first-time employment opportunities by qualifying Indigenous youth as professional lifeguards.

Since its inception, 110 Indigenous youth have participated in Bronze medallion with 40 being employed as lifeguards at Port Hedland pools and many going on to further employment in the mining industry.

Additionally, the program has assisted 60 young people gain Senior First Aid qualifications and given 10 Indigenous youth the opportunity to become certified AUSTSWIM instructors.

For more information about Swim for Life, phone Kate Tsorvas on 0458 988 079.

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