Almost 100 children in Nevis successfully completed a water safety program hosted by the St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Nevis Branch.

The two-week water safety ended Friday and was held at Mosquito Bay.

Speaking with the Observer on Friday, Red Cross instructor and health educator Nurse Roxanne Brookes noted that the program is now in its fourth year and the objective of the program is to teach children between the ages of 5-18 on the importance and safety as it regards to water.

“It is teaching them how to be safe in, on and around water,” she said. “The focus is not primarily on swimming, but more on safety and then swimming.”

The program ran for the past two weeks; the first week was for 53 children between the ages of 5-11 and the second week for 47 children between the ages of 12-18.

“The template that the Nevis Branch Red Cross is of the American Red Cross,” she said. “And that is a very structured formatted program. That was the guideline that the instructors themselves were taught and that was used. It is a very validated program.”

Nine local instructors were trained by Mary Hollers of the Texas Red Cross, who has been with the Nevis Red Cross for three years, and Trevor Seaton, who acted as coordinator of the water safety program. Both are “trainer of trainers” and both led an instructors’ training program.

The first day, Brookes said, the children were taken to the swimming pool for assessment so the instructors could determine how comfortable the children were in the water. The participants were then placed in three groups: beginners, intermediate and expert. Brookes said that many of the children who attended couldn’t swim and some had water phobias, but by the end of the program,  they were in the water.

Brookes explained to the Observer what the term “water safety” means.

“Teaching a person about the water, both the pool and whatever mass water,” she said. “So, for St Kitts and Nevis, we are predominantly ocean and the other option is pool. It teaches from the very beginning how to dress and shoes, sun screen, threats in the water, seaweed stones, jelly fish, depth, techniques, something called “reach and throw, don’t go,” which teaches the children how to help if another person gets into distress in the water.”

Brookes said that the aim of the program is for the participants to become more comfortable around water.

“It is our hopes [that the] children will be more comfortable being in and around the water,” she said. “They will understand the importance of the safety lessons they were taught and behavior change would have come about based on any misconceptions they had or poor practices”