Hurford Parker director Will Parker with personal and business risk adviser Sian Woodham and HBCFCT Swim School Manager Harshi Dassanayake with students from Parkvale Primary School.

Local insurance brokering business Hurford Parker is backing a new water safety programme to be delivered to 1,000 Hawke’s Bay primary school students.

Company Director Will Parker said that the family-owned business decided to support the newly developed Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust’s water safety programme due to reading about a recent Water Safety New Zealand report that revealed six lives were lost to drownings in Hawke’s Bay in 2022.

“We care for the community which we are a part of and with the Cyclone impacting many people in Hawke’s Bay we think the timing to give back to young children and provide them with confidence in water safety is a great initiative,” he said.

“Water Safety is a life skill, so not only are we providing vital skills that can save a life now, but will continue to saves lives as children grow into adults. It’s all about mitigating risk and that’s a fundamental of our business.”

Water Safety New Zealand reported 93 drownings in 2022, calling it a ‘national disaster’ and the worst since 2008. Hawke’s Bay’s 6 drownings was a 40% increase on the region’s average of 4.3 drownings over the last decade. 

The Hurford Parker Water Safety Programme is being offered to over 1,000 Hawke’s Bay school students from year 4 to 8 at the Regional Aquatic Centre in Hastings.

Every child received a free 2.5 hour water safety programme which has been approved by Water Safety New Zealand.

HBCFCT Swim School Manager Harshi Dassanayake said the programme includes games, in-water safety positions such as help and huddling and rescue chains, dealing with water shock and hypothermia and learning to throw rescue ropes.

Students also learn on boat safety skills such as a scuba exit, boat instability and finding air pockets under an up-turned board. 

Parkvale Primary School was one of the first schools to participate, enrolling over 150 year 5 and 6 tamariki and principal Rueben Cooper said the programme was so successful that they hope to involve all students going forward.

“This water safety programme is essential for our tamariki and rangatahi in this region. It provides important water and life skills children will carry with them and be able to put into practice in a real-world scenario,” he said.

HBCFCT also offers a free water safety and learn to swim pilot programme for 6,000 primary school students aged from 5 years to 13 years.

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