Taking supervised adventure could save your child’s life
Local adventure sports coach Keirron Tastagh, from St Johns, returned from London last week with a clear vision to share with decision makers on the Island.
“About 400 people drown and a further 200 take their own lives in our waters in the UK every year; that equates to one accidental drowning every 20 hours. Activities in and around water are safer now than ever, but 44% of drowning fatalities happen to people who had no intention of entering the water.” David Walker, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Educating young people to take risks responsibly (make informed decisions) through coastal water experiences, is integral to the UK National Strategy for Drowning Prevention. Keirron was invited to the House of Commons by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), as the representative of the Coasteering industry, in his role of Secretary of the National CoasteeringCharter (NCC).
“Evidence suggests a concept of real risk management (progressive exposure to real risk) has a long-term positive affect on people’s perspective, and ultimately their actions.”
Coasteering on the Isle of Man
“The skillsets of the UK’s Coasteering leaders have been recognised by the National Water Safety Forum, which is itself a huge accolade. Furthermore, participation in professionally led Coasteering journeys (by NCC members) has been identified as a solution to people’s lack of real risk management experience. A practical realistic prevention of future drowning risk.”
The launch at the House of Commons last Monday, was sponsored by Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Transport, who gave his and the UK governments absolute support and backing to the strategy.
Dr David Meddings (WHO) speaks at the House of Commons launch - credit NWSF
Dr David Meddings, World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva, spoke about his pleasure in seeing the UK put together such a robust strategy. The World Health Organisation has called for all nations to have a drowning prevention strategy, and has provided advice and support to make it happen.
Guests included chiefs from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Chief Fire Officers Association, Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), and activity bodies such as British Canoeing, National Coasteering Charter (NCC) and the Amateur Swimming Association, who have all agreed to share experience and resources to prevent drowning.
Chair of the National Water Safety Forum, George Rawlinson, highlighted the need for shared vision and action by ‘making the National Strategy a local priority’ (respect and understanding of water).
The first of 5 priority targets is:
· Every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and receive water safety education at primary school and where required at Key Stage 3.
This priority has already been piloted by members of the NWSF, on the Island. Last August, a partnership between the RNLI and the ASA, saw lifeguards from Western Swimming Pool undertake their RLSS Beach Lifeguard Award, before running the ‘Swim Safe’ open water safety sessions in Peel for 192 youngsters. There are plans to expand the program this summer.
"Broadly speaking, misinterpretation of Health and Safety has meant that risk aversion became a running theme though both health and education systems. In a nutshell, a common solution to people’s lack of risk management experience, is to prevent them taking risks (legislation over education). The escalating cost of which is unsustainable.”
Keirron explained that detailed and close communication between safety bodies, (through the NWSF) and analysis of the facts, have driven a fresh approach to safety and drowning prevention in the UK. Combined with this, long-term partnerships with organisations such as the NCC (sharing knowledge) has considerably lowered their industry risk profile.
“People’s mental and physical health benefit from outdoor exercise. Where that exercise involves real challenge, (risk is an element of challenge) prevention of harm is facilitated by those with appropriate experience. By guiding people through progressively increasing challenge, combined with skilful coaching, participants learn that risk aversion is ‘one’ of their options. Experiencing challenge in this way allows participants to start making informed decisions themselves, (real risk management).”
The well-publicised, professionally led activity of Coasteering is the epitome of this learning process. Keirron’s company Adventurous Experiences has been running experiences and long-term programs on the Isle of Man for nearly 12 years.
“I chose two great activities, sea kayaking and coasteering to achieve my business vision, back in 2004. Over time, with a terrific team behind me, the developmental components of regular exposure to adventure, challenge and associated risk have led to our programs receiving international acclaim, and invitations to speak at conferences in the UK and overseas. I’m absolutely delighted to be part of this shared vision of evidence driven decision making.”
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