When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
River tragedy highlights free swimming classes
FAMILIES receiving benefits are being offered free swimming lessons for their children.
Oxford City Council is offering a course of 13 lessons later this month for children under 17 who live in the city.
The scheme is available for families that receive free school meals, job seekers allowance, income support, council tax and housing benefit.
The four swimming pools where the free lessons are available are Ferry Leisure Centre, Barton Leisure Centre, Blackbird Leys and Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness Centre.
City councillor Susanna Pressel said the move was important in the light of the death of 15-year-old Hussain Mohammed last Friday.
The teenager died after he jumped into the Thames at Donnington Bridge.
Ms Pressel, who represents Osney and Jericho, added: “I feel very strongly that all children should learn to swim.”
And Cowley Marsh city councillor Saj Malik said: “We can use this tragic death in a positive way to encourage children and parents to take this opportunity to swim.
“We can save families the same grief the Hussain family has been going through.”
The lessons are available at four Oxford pools and registration opened on Monday. Lessons start on Monday, June 25.
Kim Brady, head swimming teacher at Ferry Leisure Centre, added: “The importance of learning to swim can never be underestimated.
“Not only is learning to swim fun, but it is also a skill which could go on to save yours or somebody else’s life.”
Barton Community Association secretary Sue Holden said the group has in the past offered free lessons to youngsters on the estate.
She said: “I think it is absolutely vital that all kids get the opportunity to swim.
“Fair play to the council, because they obviously realise the importance of getting kids to swim. And once kids can swim it offers better usage of their facilities.”
After the youngsters complete seven consecutive lessons they receive a free pair of swimming goggles.
And once they achieve their swimming levels they will receive a free badge and certificate.
Mark Lygo, council board member for parks and sports, said: “We are committed to offering inclusive activities and improving the health of children living in the city.
“This project reaches those most in need.”
- To find out more about the lessons, pick up an application form from one of the leisure centres or visit oxford.gov.uk/freeswim. Parents need to fill in an application form which the council will check to ensure children fit the criteria before enrolling them on the course.