Regional District of Nanaimo recreation programmer Anne Porteous is in China this week, assisting with the China Water Safety Project, a pilot project to improve water safety for children in that country.
Porteous, who works at Ravensong Aquatic Centre, is a Red Cross Master Instructor Trainer, is in Xiamen, China Oct. 20 to help train 20 water safety instructors by adapting the Canadian Red Cross Learn to Swim Program to fit the Chinese cultural context.
Porteous and another volunteer were chosen to be part of a team of Master Instructor Trainers that will spend 10 days sharing water safety knowledge.
“This is wonderful professional recognition for Anne, and it underlines the quality of our aquatic programming,” said Frank Van Eynde, Chair of the District 69 Recreation Commission.
“Anne is an excellent trainer and I know that she is going to be a tremendous asset to this initiative.”
According to a Canadian Red Cross report on the project, drowning ranks top among unnatural deaths of youth in China.
In Xiamen, the cases of children drowning in the sea and in swimming pools also ranks top among unnatural deaths. It is hoped that adaptation of the Canadian Red Cross swimming certification levels will ultimately reduce drowning incidents in Xiamen.
If the Xiamen pilot is successful, the Red Cross hopes to expand the project throughout China.
Porteous, who has been a volunteer for the Red Cross for close to 25 years, said she has a passion for the society and the values that it portrays and she admitted she is excited and a bit overwhelmed by her mission.
“To be honest I am very honored to be able to do this. It is pretty exciting. They believe in me as a volunteer and us as a group to be committed to go over and basically change people’s lives.
“To think that we are going to China to possibly change a nation is exciting.”
Porteous said the project to implement their model in China which is prepare; stay safe and survive began two years ago.
She said when a delegation came over from China last year they put together a plan on how to implement Canadian Red Cross water safety into China and this is the next step.
She stated China’s water safety programs haven’t been made available to the general public.
“Because China is highly populated it has been based on competition. Because there are so many people it has been based on elite athletes rather than learn to swim programs,” she said.
Porteous said she believes they will be successful in changing the way people learn about water and safety issues because of the successful model they have in place.