International Awareness for the Children's Water Safety & Drowning Prevention Program

Chiang Mai International Rotary Club (CMIRC)-Kru Payu and Safe Child Thailand Children’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Program (CWSDPP)

Sponsored By CMIRC, The Swiss Lanna Society, The Safe Child Thailand Foundation, Australian Direct Aid Program, and the British Community in Thailand Foundation for the Needy

October is always the slowest month for our CMIRC CWSDP program, since we work with the 4th-grade children in Thai schools and Thai schools have a semester break during the month of October. So, as Project Champion, I took the opportunity to attend the World Health Organization-International Lifesaving Society World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP) in Durban, South Africa. Almost six-hundred delegates attended from more than fifty countries, representing every major region of our planet. Pictured, left, are the Acting Mayor of Durban, South Africa and officials of the Sports Ministry, the WCDP hosts.

I was fortunate to be selected as a speaker, presenting a paper describing the work we have done here in Thailand: "Using Service Organizations and NGOs to Develop and Promote Children's Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Programs in Thailand: A Practical Guide for Poor and Middle-Income Countries" Here is a summary (abstract) of what I presented:

"Almost 1,000 children drown each year in Thailand; and according to the WHO, drowning is a leading cause of children’s deaths in the region. Focusing on the problem in Thailand, the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club (CMIRC) created a program based on the RLSS curriculum to reduce children’s drowning deaths. Over the course of the past 4 years CMIRC organized annual survival swimming instruction for 4th-grade students in 11 public schools in Chiang Mai, 3 schools in Lampang, the major elementary schools in Phrao and Patong Beach, and a Burmese refugee center in Phuket. This presentation describes our programs in detail and shares the lessons learned over the past 4 years of planning, implementation, and evaluation. We hope that other developing countries can learn from CMIRC's experience using volunteer network resources provided by community service organizations to organize and fund survival swimming instruction.

Outcomes data were also analyzed showing final assessment results for over 1,000 8-10 year-old children who have participated in the CMIRC programs."

The presentation was well attended and very well received. Several important contacts were made, and sources of future funding and support were identified.