Friday, 26 June 2015

Drowning Awareness.

I suppose one of the things boaters are aware of more than most is that the canals are a dangerous place to be. I was warned about the dangers of the canal and two rivers which were very close to my childhood home. Getting the balance right between 'informing without frightening' our children is very difficult. Canals are exciting places to be, for children and will always be something of an attraction.

This week has been Drowning Prevention Week 20-28th June. I was surprised that the Canal and River Trust did not make it something of an national occasion. Playing a role  and taking a leading in raising awareness.  However, I suppose when you have a Key Performance Indicator for funding. Depending on attracting millions of people to the canals. It might be a temptation to look the other way and keep your head down. This is much the same as the 'head in the sand' stance of the ever increasing danger that 'uneducated' high speed cyclist are bringing to the canals. I am however pleased to say, that its not the same everywhere.  

Back on my home waterway in August 2011. Eight-year-old Matthew Cartwright died after falling into the South Yorkshire navigation at Swinton. Schoolboy Matthew like many children do in late summer, was just innocently collecting blackberries. Matthew parents created a petition which was supported by local residents asking that fencing and warning signs to be installed to make other children aware of the dangers.

It's taken four years, but now a 160 feet long 4 feet high fence is being organised and built by the Swinton Lock Activity Centre Trust. Not only that but 1200 local school children from 5 local schools are also getting involved in designing a warning poster. In its own way, this simple involvement of so many children will act as an alert for impressionable children.  Especially as the summer holidays from the local schools will be happening soon. 

Congratulations go to the Swinton Lock Activity Centre Trust for finally helping to bring to a conclusion such a sad but at the same time worthwhile need. The catalyst for the renewal of interest came about, when the Swinton Lock Activity Centre Trust adopted a length of the waterway in the area.

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