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Spotlight on Children's Water Safety & Drowning Prevention

Entering its eighth year, the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club (CMIRC) Children’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Program (CWSDPP) is the oldest continuously operating CMIRC service project.

Over the past seven years, the project has taught water safety and survival swimming to more than 3000 4th grade students in the eleven Chiang Mai Municipal Schools, the Wat Suan Dok School, eleven municipal schools in Phrao, and a Migrant Learning Centre in Banya, Phuket. In addition, this program contributes training and resources to Children's Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Programs in Patong Beach, Phuket, Lampang, and Phetchabun Province, as well as working with the Rotary Club Royal Hua Hin to develop a Children’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Program there.

The efforts are widespread and extremely effective. But there is more work to be done.

In 2014, the World Health Organization/Thai Ministry of Public Health Report had stated that the leading cause of death for children between 1 and 15 years of age in Thailand was DROWNING!!! The Ministry of Public Health has regularly reported more than 1000 child drowning deaths per year.

After much research, the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club decided to use the Royal Life Saving Society of the Commonwealth Curriculum as it had been adapted for use in Australian public schools as the basis for our courses. The curriculum consists of 15 hours of instruction, taught by professional Thai swim instructors. (pictured is Khru Payu and instructors in the pool at Bronco Kids Sports Club in Chiang Mai, while the first class of the 2022-2023 school year eagerly awaits at the side of the pool for their first time in the water)

While the program costs are only about 1000 baht per child, when we are teaching up to 500 children per year the numbers mount up to over 500,000 baht (about USD 15,000) per year. CMIRC has worked hard to establish an excellent reputation for stewardship of donations and grant money, so we have been able to meet these annual expenses through the generosity of individual donors and foundation and non-profit organization grants. However, each year requires a new commitment from our donors and granters, so there is always uncertainty!

Finally, after seven years of successful program building in Chiang Mai, Phrao, Patong Beach, and Banya, Phuket, we are launching expansion plans for the rest of Thailand, working when possible, through other Rotary Clubs or local respected NGOs. We want to change the culture of non-swimming and fear of water in Thailand and build the foundation for generations that see swim instruction as a normal and required part of the education every child receives!

Most importantly, this is a big job but our programs are enthusiastically received wherever they are offered and we believe we can move Thailand from a society where only about 20% of the children can swim to one where 100% can swim by the time they are 10 years old and be safe around water even earlier than that.

Donations are needed to ensure this program continues to help 500 children, year after year. You can let us know if you want to help us accomplish this task by contacting John Schorr at

CMIRC Member Volunteer Hours for the Month of June: 2 hours


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