Swim programme teaches Caymanian children much more than water skills
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, June 25, 2017 – A group of Caymanian children are learning to swim and snorkel through the West Bay ECO Warriors program hosted by Sunset House and organized by staffer Emma Jane Fisher, who has long believed in teaching kids to love the ocean and be safe in it.
“After living & working on different Caribbean Islands I found that local kids generally do not receive formal swim training as part of their school curriculum and I think that is a missed opportunity and here at Sunset House we want to change that,” said Fisher, who helps with Sunset House’s Sales/Marketing and Outreach Training.
Ten students between the ages of 8 – 10 from West Bay Primary School and John A. Cumber meet every Thursday at the Sunset House seaside swimming pool to learn skills taught through PADI swim school and the YMCA. The swim program is supported by the YMCA and the Cayman Islands Ministry of Education, and the Ministry has identified the enrollees as children at risk. The swim program gives them an activity to look forward to and water skills to make them safer, but a broader goal is to raise the kid’s awareness of ocean conservation and enhance national pride in their home and its rich seafaring heritage.
“By introducing young Caymanians to swimming and snorkeling, we want to make them aware of Cayman’s outstanding watersports tourism product, especially in watersports and diving. The hope is that they can eventually make a career for themselves in tourism,” said Ms. Fisher.
Guest speakers are part of the curriculum to educate and entertain the children, and subjects center on the marine environment and how to protect and preserve it. Fisher also speaks to classrooms during the school year to promote water safety and ocean conservation. She encourages the older students to try diving with the hope that they will continue their scuba education to become a rescue diver or divemaster. Sunset House would like to have more Caymanians on their dive staff, and the industry offers good career paths in tourism.
“The overall goal is to produce future dive tourism professionals from the Cayman Islands who are aware of and proud of their island’s beauty and marine environment, which is among the best in the world,” said Fisher.
“This program is one of many community and special projects that Sunset House and Sunset Divers are involved in, including Force Blue and Save Cayman,” added General Manager Keith Sahm.
Force Blue is a nonprofit program that engages and trains combat divers to participate in coral restoration, thus giving the men a mission to save reefs and giving our reefs much needed help. Save Cayman is a grassroots nonprofit organization that advocates for environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism in the Cayman Islands.
“Sunset House is committed to supporting our local community, the marine environment and combat veterans,” said Sahm.
Emma-Jane Fisher says the swim program, which is run entirely on donations, is a vital first step in engaging children and spurring their interest in watersports, but they are facing a challenge.
“Unfortunately, the Cayman Islands Government has cut its funding for the program, so we are always running in deficit,” she said. “We’d greatly appreciate help, financial or otherwise, to keep these kids safe and lead them into further education as they grow older.”
To help the ECO Warriors Program with donations, swimming equipment, snacks or transportation contact Emma-Jane Fisher at [email protected] or call Sunset House at 1 (800) 854 4767.