Credit Exmouth RNLI:
PR201614-4 Year 6 pupils from Beacon C of E Primary School with RNLI Lifeguard Instructors.
Around 140 children, aged between seven and 11, from five schools in the area took part in the charity’s unique Hit the Surf scheme, which ran from Monday (16 June) though to today (20 June) on Exmouth beach.
The programme sees RNLI lifeguards delivering surf safety sessions, with theory covering important subjects like the role of lifeguards; key beach hazards; the meaning of the beach safety flags; and what to do if you get into difficulty in the water, before a practical lesson on the beach which aims to make the children more capable and confident in the water.
Local volunteer group, Exmouth Beach Rescue Club kindly offered their facilities free of charge for the event, which included a 20-minute classroom session before the class donned RNLI wetsuits and rash vests. The children were reassured that they would be most safe in the water, given the number of highly-trained lifeguards present with them. The class took part in beach exercises in front of the lifeboat station before walking to the safe swimming area near the lifeguard hut, to enter the water.
Sarah Beresford, RNLI Beach Safety Supervisor, who oversees the programme, says:
‘Hit the Surf is a fun and active programme for the children to get involved in but it also carries some very important messages about how to stay safe in the surf and what to do should they find themselves in difficulty. Bodyboarding is particularly popular with children so we want to make sure they have the right skills and knowledge to be able to enjoy themselves, but keep safe at the same time. This programme is now into its ninth year and we’ve had a great reception from the schools.’
On 18 June, pupils in years 5 and 6 at The Beacon Church of England Primary School took part in the Hit the Surf session. Teacher Mrs Lawson accompanied one group;
‘It’s a brilliant way to learn about surf safety and yet it was so much fun for all of them. One of my boys really didn’t want to take part, but I insisted. The moment he caught a wave, he screamed ‘Wicked!’ and then there was no stopping him. It’s a good way to build up self-esteem and confidence in primary school children.’