Background Water is a big part of the life style in Finland, “the land of a thousand lakes”. The geographical and cultural features motivate the Finns to learn to swim. However, the statistics on causes of death reveal that among children (0–17) in Finland, drownings are the second largest group among fatalities due to accidents (Finnish Safety Investigation Authority 2012). The project “Water Heroes” was created for children, teachers and parents to help them to enjoy swimming and other water activities in a safe way.
Objective The three year project Water Heroes was launched in 2015. Its main goals are 1) to distribute information and inspire children and young people to spend time in and around water in a safe way, 2) to create a teacher handbook including different in-door and out-door models for the teacher to carry out various activities in conjunction with different school topics, 3) to advise parents on how to support their children in learning swimming and other water related skills safely. The project is led by the Finnish School Sport Federation and financed by Reijo Rautauoma Foundation.
Results During the first year, the project reached almost 3000 children and their teachers during the tour that stopped in five cities. In Helsinki the event was part of the European Week of Sport. Feedback from the participants has been positive and teachers found the events useful. Project has also received media attention. The experiences from the first events will be used to develop project activities and materials in the future. An online handbook for teachers will be published in the beginning of 2016.
Conclusions It is important to have different kind of strategies to tackle the drowning problem as well as to promote water activities in a safe way. Action-based projects seem to work well with school children. In addition, the learning-by-doing – model supports well the new fundamentals of Physical Education 2016, issued by the Finnish National Board of Education.
- Water Heroes
- Water Safety
- Drowning prevention