Magazine article Parks & Recreation

An Aquatic Journey

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

An Aquatic Journey

Article excerpt

When children are absorbed and enchanted with the games and distractions in water parks, they often downplay or don't notice the normally unpleasant experiences of get-ting water in their faces or up their noses. This observation opened the door to developing the new National Safety Council/Ellis and Associates Learn-to-Swim program.

The new program is an unprecedented joint effort by three national agencies-the National Safety Council, the National Recreation and Park Association, and Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc. The National Safety Council "owns" the program the National Recreation and Park Association endorses, markets and manages book sales for the program and Ellis and Associates provide the courses, instructor training and quality control.

The total Learn-to-Swim program will consist of three separate components, each geared to a specific age and ability group. The Exploration Series is for infants/pre-schoolers and their parents or caregivers. The foundation of this program will be providing parents and children experiences that will allow them to explore the water as a learning environment. Water skills and safety skills will be combined.

The Journey Series is for beginning swimmers ages four to eight. Swimmers in this age group are usually just beginning to learn to swim, and will be guided as they learn new aquatic skills.

The Challenge Series is performance-based, and for any age. This program will be designed to improve technical skill performance at any level, and will be appropriate for implementing into a physical education curriculum, camp session, novice swim team, adult class or fitness program. Participants will be challenged to improve swimming skills at a level appropriate for their individual goals. Currently, we are developing the Exploration Series and Challenge series; The Journey Series is up and running.

We designed the Journey Series to provide young children with a positive, fun-filled opportunity to learn to swim. We achieve this objective through an innovative approach to teaching basic levels of swimming. The series is an interactive, objective-based program involving the parent, child and instructor through the use of colorful, take-home booklets and teaching aids.

Swish the Safety Fish and a host of aquatic "teachers" are featured in the sticker books that are integral to the program.

There are three journeys in the series, each with its own book. Within each Journey book, Swish and his friends have adventures that revolve around specific swimming skills. At the end of each adventure, there is a page for the instructor to place stickers celebrating the student's success at performing the skill.

Children move at their own pace, and after successfully completing national standards for each Journey they receive a completion certificate. Journey One includes adjustment to water, floats, kicks, recovery and basic propulsion. Journey Two includes arm pulls, combined stroke with breathing and backstroke. Journey Three includes advanced stroke development.

The program adheres to specific, universal safety and technical standards, applicable to diverse populations and environments. Some of these components include:

Safety and Risk Management

Safety is integral to the program, and is built into the courses at several levels. First, the Journey books each contain three safety page worksheets, in addition to special safety rules that are the theme of the journey. These worksheet pages teach the students about a variety of water safety topics ranging from lifeguard identification to home pool safety. Because the books are designed to be taken home, parents are also involved in the learning process, and are learning about water safety when they read the stories and help their child with the worksheets.

The instructor resource handbook contains specific safety considerations for each journey. …

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