Soneva commemorates World Oceans Day with ‘Learn To Swim’ Programme for Maldivian children

Maldives Lifeguard Association conducts certified swimming instructor training as part of Programme

Maldivian children are taught to swim in the Soneva Learn to Swim Programme. PHOTO: catvphotography.co.uk

Maldivian children are taught to swim in the Soneva Learn to Swim Programme. PHOTO: catvphotography.co.uk

 

Soneva, a world-leading luxury resort operator, will conclude its second annual Learn To Swim Programme for Maldivian Children on the occasion of World Oceans Day on June 08; the United Nations-recognized day of ocean celebration and action.

Despite living in an island nation less than one meter above sea level, many Maldivians grow up without learning to swim.  While this poses a clear risk to life, it also means that children gather little environmental awareness of the marine ecosystems that surround them. Soneva’s Learn To Swim Programme is designed to help the children become more confident in the water and inspire a new generation of Maldivians to protect their endangered coral reefs.

Saanee from the Baa Atoll Education Center prepares for her first swimming lesson

Saanee from the Baa Atoll Education Center prepares for her first swimming lesson

Over the past two months, a total of 60 Grade 3 students from two local islands, Eydhafushi and Maalhos, put on snorkels and learnt the basics of swimming, with one child going into the water for the first time. The training was provided by Soneva Hosts and other volunteers. A ceremony will be held for the students at Soneva Fushi on Monday, June 08, where they will be presented with certificates, and participate in a snorkelling activity.

In addition to the children, eight Maldivian adults became certified swimming instructors as part of the Programme, with the training being conducted by the Maldives Lifeguard Association.  The Maldives Police Service also played a key role, as three of the local policemen stationed in Eydhafushi became certified swimming instructors.

The Learn To Swim Programme is an initiative of the 2013 SLOWLIFE Symposium, an annual event organised by the SLOWLIFE Foundation and sponsored by Soneva that convenes leading figures to collaborate on environmental and social initiatives.  The total number of students that have participated in the Programme exceeds 130 in only two years.

In 2013, the writer, filmmaker and adventurer Jon Bowermaster, who attended the SLOWLIFE Symposium, committed to creating a documentary film (see trailer below) that would seek to raise the profile of the link between swimming and ocean preservation in the Maldives.

It is hoped that the film will be a compelling argument for resorts around the world to join Soneva and Jon Bowermaster in their cause.

Soneva Fushi, located in the Baa Atoll, Maldives, is the original desert island hideaway. Fifty seven vast, multi-bedroom villas or private residences are hidden among dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine, UNESCO Biosphere coral reef. A resort for the young, and young at heart, it has cycling trails, a large children’s Den, water sports galore, al fresco films at Cinema Paradiso, 60 flavours of ice cream, 11 types of pillow, 500 wines, and nine ways to dine.

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