The importance of swimming: an expat community teaches local kids to swim

CityNews – Friends of Luang Nua, an informal group of expat residents living in Luang Nua Sub-district, Doi Saket, has been providing swimming lessons to local children for years.

Following the death by drowning of an eight year old boy who was in the forest collecting mushrooms with his grandmother and cousin aged 12 when he fell into the Mae Kuang Dam nearby, the group learnt that neither the boy, his grandmother nor his cousin could swim, tragically leading to his death. The group then discovered that most of the local community had not learnt how to swim, and that death by drowning is one of the highest causes of child death in Thailand.

So every Saturday morning ever since, members of the group, together with the kind owner of the local Jamjuree restaurant who is a professional swimming trainer, have been teaching about ten kids to swim at the Wang Tarn Resort.  Now more than 350 local children can swim because of this small enterprise.

About two years ago the Luang Nua Tessaban, in response to requests from local parents, asked for, and were given, a government budget for swimming lessons and they have started a swimming programme for kids during the long, hot summer holidays.  They teach about 80 children during that time, but the Friends of Luang Nua group continued with our small classes every Saturday for the rest of the year.

Two days ago the group was invited to join a TV programme being shot by MCOT, to be shown on channel 3, 9 and 11, discussing the initiatives to be used to promote the need for children to learn how to swim. This little video will be shown on several Thai TV channels and then distributed to Tessabans all over Thailand to encourage them to follow the example of Luang Nua Tessaban.

“How wonderful that something good could come from such small beginnings. I feel that dear little Bert did not die in vain all those years ago, as surely some Tessabans will take up the banner,” said one expat resident.

Friends of Luang Nua also show their appreciation for the local community by providing food tokens for 24 of the poorest families, so they can buy up to 1000 baht’s worth of food per month.