Taking the plunge in Hong Kong
Do you remember your first time? Dipping your toe tentatively in the water. The feeling of trepidation, of exhilaration, the palpable sense of fear because you did not know how to swim? Chris Jay tells the story of how Splash is helping a wide range of adults to take to the water.
Helping adults learning to swim
In 2018 the number of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong reached 385,000 which represents 5% of the total population. The home-help workers are predominantly female and from the Philippines and Indonesia. They normally perform household tasks such as cooking, serving, cleaning, dish-washing, child care and supporting the elderly. There is a growing acknowledgement of the considerable contribution domestic helpers make to both the economy and the well-being of many families in Hong Kong. However, access to local services remains extremely limited for Hong Kong’s domestic helpers.
A high proportion of low-income communities all over the world cannot swim. The US Swimming Association reports that the percentage of low to no swimming ability vastly increases in lower income households. Removing the fear that many have about water within these communities, and replacing it with knowledge and skills, is an important step towards making communities safer and swimming more accessible.
Splash is Hong Kong’s only non-profit swim school that supports those ‘who don’t normally have access to or the means for swimming lessons’. They run free adult swimming programmes for migrant domestic workers and refugees as well as programmes for children from low income communities. Their approach is simple, ‘connect those who can swim with those who can’t’.
Splash brings together an all-volunteer group of coaches from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of experience – from professional swim teachers to general swimming enthusiasts. They provide training to those who have a swimming background but have never coached before. What motivates Splash coaches? Giving back to a city that has given them so much and working with such brave, determined and enthusiastic learners.
International Schools and Splash
In a city where land is in short supply and facilities charge a premium, some international schools are kindly offering their swimming pools at reduced rates during off peak times. This kind of support has been an important factor in the growth of Splash, as it allows the foundation to offer more courses around the city to meet an ever-growing demand. Another great thing to see is an increasing number of IB Diploma students completing their Creativity Activity Service (CAS) projects through volunteering in the pool with Splash. Service at its best – local and meaningful.
Impacting the Community
At the start of 2019 more than 1,700 people have learnt to swim and be water safe through Splash. More importantly, Splash has allowed them to join a community where people develop self-confidence and well-being, become healthier and fitter and ultimately flourish in and out of the water.
A number of Splash graduates have trained to join the coaching team feeding into the foundation’s philosophy of ‘Educate-Empower-Connect’. This provides an added level of inspiration and motivation for anyone learning to swim with the programme.
Perhaps what is most inspiring of all is the fact that Splash graduates can now be seen competing in Hong Kong open water swimming events and have wasted no time in achieving category medals.
Chris Jay has just started his third term coaching with Splash.
For more information please visit: http://www.splashfoundation.org/en/
For anybody interested in joining the Splash team: http://www.splashfoundation.org/en/coach
Splash Images: Chris Jay
Hong Kong image: fabSB17 – Pixabay