Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington is launching a £1million project to help West Midlands schools improve their swimming pool facilities. The four-time Olympic medalist is leading an initiative to keep pool facilities open and help children develop their swimming skills.
Recent data shows that one in three children leave primary school unable to swim 25 meters – and Rebecca fears the number could be much higher due to the rising trend in school swimming pool closures. The mum-of-two is launching The Movement Project, an initiative of Total Swimming Academies and Vivify Venues, offering schools in the West Midlands a £1million investment fund to help them stay open.
The funds can be used for a range of maintenance work, including new changing rooms, viewing galleries, pool installation work or to build a reception area. The movement project will help schools manage facility operations to ensure the school pool and dry side facilities remain open outside school hours, providing vital access to the local community.
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Rebecca said: “There aren’t enough swimming pools in the country as it is, and the impact of closing so many public swimming pools last year is catastrophic. The reason school swimming pools are important is that their main priority is the national swimming program.
“They are absolutely fundamental to achieving the National Curriculum swimming goals and equipping children with the foundation skills they need when they leave secondary school. Research has shown that if children do not learn to swim at elementary school, they won’t.
“It is very worrying to see so many swimming pools closing, many of which are in deprived areas – families depend on them – if they do not have access to school swimming pool facilities we are going to see the number of children unable to swim uphill quickly.”
Rebecca pleads with schools to push swimming to the top of the agenda, saying swimming should be a priority just as much as core subjects because it’s a vital skill every child deserves to have. She added: “I don’t see any more important activity children should be doing in schools than learning to swim at primary age.
“We know that physical activity is key to tackling the obesity crisis and supports mental health – I implore school leaders and governors to take this seriously.”
According to the RSPCH, there has been a record increase in childhood obesity since the start of the pandemic. One in four (27.7%) children of school age are overweight or obese; this figure increases to 4 in 10 (40.9%) in grade 6 (10-11 years), according to the latest data.
Rebecca added: “I strongly believe that the more active you are, the more mentally alert you will become, and we know the impact sport has on helping children achieve their life goals, both in the classroom and in life. outside. I implore school leaders, physical education departments, governors, parents and local authorities to support these valuable community assets and contact us about The Movement Project, whether an investment to upgrade the pool or dry side facilities or both, we can help.
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