The Jakarta Post reports how elementary school children living on the eastern coast of Bali are being turned into junior lifeguards. Most of the children involved in the pioneering project come from Lebih village in Gianyar, a one-half hour drive from Bali’s capital of Denpasar.
While villagers at Lebih were once frightened and intimidated by the large waves that washed their shores, familiarization with the ways of the ocean through training provided for elementary school age students has helped “drown-proof” many local children and created lucrative job opportunities working as lifeguards both in Bali and abroad.
The village itslef now employs 20 lifeguards with an estimated 50 other villagers now working overseas, guarding swimmers on distant shores.
A village leader, Wayan Gede Pradnyana, told the press that Lebih now holds an annual Lebih Beach Festival that includes swimming competitions and other games organized by Surf Life Saving Australia.
Surf Life Saving Australia provides courses for village children on basic swimming, water survival and life-savings techniques.
Pradnyana recalls how his village was initially approached and offered assistance by Surf Life Australia largely because the village has its own swimming pool, considered essential to the training of young swimmers and lifeguards.
Training is conducted for children from two grade schools every Sunday morning on the beach. Explained Pradnyana: “We teach the children using a guide book provided by Surf Life Saving Australia, which contains lessons about basic lifeguard skills and first aid to save victims. We hope that the children can learn how to save themselves and others.”
The five-week course will eventually certify some 200 students and celebrated on a graduation day that will include beach runs and swimming competitions.
Winners will also receive books and swimming gear provided by Surf Life Saving Australia and the village administration.
All training for the children is provided without charge.
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