The 2023 annual Harda Swim and Survive Program provided 108 kids and youth, aged 6-16 years old, with the opportunity to learn water safety and survival techniques, as well as swimming lessons. The program ran from Mon Jan 9th – Fri Jan 20th, the last 2 full weeks of the school holidays, with each child having a daily 45 minute session. It was held, as always, at the royal Lifesaving facility, Aquatic Safety Training Academy (ASTA) in Seven Hills. While the parents were able to socialise with other parents we did run a water safety session for them to increase water safety awareness in our Horn of Africa communities.
Everyone had lots of fun and made great progress on their swimming skills and capability. Harda & the community thank Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic club for their ongoing support of this much loved and enjoyed summer program.
HARDA ran the 2022 session of our flagship Swim, Survive and Socialise Program (delayed from the January school holidays due to COVID) daily over the two-week Easter 2022 school break. As always, the program was a success and the children and families who attended appreciated and enjoyed the lessons. Over one hundred participants were initially enrolled in the two-week program. Some highlights of this year’s session included:
· The parent safety session, which was very well-received, and attended by the majority of the mothers present on the day. The parents asked a lot of questions and enjoyed doing CPR on the dummies.
· One of our previous program participants was working as an instructor during the session, so it felt like the program had come full circle.
Unfortunately the annual Harda Swimming Program for 6-17yo to be held in January 2022 had to be postponed this year due to covid, which was very disappointing for all involved & we apologise to all the kids who were looking forward to it.
However we are hoping to run it in the Easter holidays, from Mon April 11th to Fri Apr 22nd. This will run on weekdays and be an 8 day program due to the Easter public holidays when it will not operate. Sessions & participants will be the same as advised for the Jan program and will be confirmed closer to the date. If you are not already registered and want to participate or if you are and cannot make it please contact us asap. This program is sponsored by Dooleys Catholic Club and we are v appreciative of their ongoing support.
HARDA was very fortunate that the Scanlon Foundation provided an Emergency Support grant in a extremely short time frame in early August so that we could provide urgent assistance to community members experiencing severe hardship due to them or their families having contracted Covid, needing to be in isolation or due to the long lockdown. This help was provided by email in the form of Woolworths gift cards to enable contactless delivery of food and other urgently needed essentials. Information was also provided on the financial assistance available from the government, on Covid restrictions and requirements, on vaccinations and in some cases assistance was given with phone plans to help alleviate social isolation.
In October HARDA was fortunate to receive a grant from Multicultural NSW through their Empowering and Supporting Local Communities Program. This allowed us to continue to provide emergency supplies support as well as Covid and Vaccination information to members of our communities who were struggling to put food on the table due to the Covid pandemic. We also supplied 942 bottles (142lt) of hand sanitizer (sourced through Good360 Australia) and 8,000 masks to the South Sudanese and Somalia communities.
Over 110 kids and youth from a Horn of Africa or CALD background attended HARDA’s annual
Swim, Survive and Socialize program, sponsored by Dooleys Catholic Club. The program was held at ASTA in Seven Hills and catered for all levels from beginner to advanced, with 45 min classes every weekday from Jan 11th – 22nd. While extra precautions because of covid were taken, it didn’t detract from the fun had by all and the great progress everyone made in their swimming & water safety skills. We were v pleased that in this difficult year this was one program that was able to go ahead and everyone really enjoyed it. The smiles on the faces made it all worthwhile.
HARDA is very excited to report that this year we have achieved one of our long held goals in our quest to increase community water safety capacity. One of the swim instructors teaching in this year’s program was a young lady with a South Sudanese background. She participated in the HARDA Swim Program when she was she was younger and did her Bronze Medallion and her Instructors course through it. She is now working as an instructor at ASTA while she completes her studies. We are hopefully that over the next couple of years we will have more swim instructors from our communities, in part because of her inspiration.
More than 100 kids aged 6-16 y.o. attended this year to learn water safety and improve their swimming skills or in many cases to learn to swim for the first time. They made great improvements in their swimming abilities and really enjoyed the program, which ran from 13th – 24th of January 2020 at the Aquatic Safety Training Academy in Seven Hills.
The most advanced youth undertook a program to work towards their Bronze Medallion, a recognised lifesaving award. 9 students obtained their bronze star, the intermediate step towards their medallion, which we hope they will obtain at the next program. The step after the medallion is an instructor’s course and certification which is a qualification to teach swimming in a paid capacity. We had two youth who undertook the course last year through the HARDA program. They helped the instructors in the program as part of the practical hours they required to get their qualification. We are hoping that they will be teaching later in the year. As well as a good source of employment it provides role models for our current students and the community and builds the capacity within the communities. They were a great help in the program this year and the kids loved having them teaching them. This year one student will undertake the instructors course. This is part of HARDA’s long term objective of increasing community capacity and self-sufficiency.
The program provided a great relief from this year’s heat out west. The kids were delighted to get out of the house, many of whom had been kept indoors because of the poor air quality this year; they got to meet their friends, make new friends and have an activity – all important for their mental & physical wellbeing. It also provided a much needed break for parents who had kids at home from the start of the holidays. The parents enjoyed their time socialising with old friends and meeting new friends while the kids swam. Most parents also undertook a CPR & water safety course that we arranged for them at the pool, thus increasing community skills, safety capacity and awareness. The community & HARDA were very grateful to Dooleys Catholic Club for funding the program.
This year’s program started in October with a day of indoor rock climbing in Villawood. The participants were paired up and either belayed each other or took turns climbing and encouraging each other.
The second session in early November was a day of laser tag & bowling which all the kids much enjoyed. It was great to see them working together in mixed teams. As normal the final session of the program, one greatly looked forward to by the kids from our communities, took place at Coogee Beach in conjunction with the Coogee Surf Lifesaving Club
Following sand games and a traditional Aussie sausage sizzle lunch, the parents and kids were given an introduction to surf and beach safety. Afterwards all the kids went down to the beach for water fun and safety training with the Surf Lifesavers. We are very appreciative to the Coogee Surf Lifesaving Club, and particularly to Doug & his group volunteer lifesavers.
This year the program sessions were run with shorter intervals of 2 weeks between each, which really helped facilitate better relationships between both groups. It has been great to see many of the kids really connect over the course of the program.
Our thanks to Kids Giving Back for hosting the program and the volunteers from both organisations who made it a success.
This year 97 boys and girls, aged 6-15 years old enrolled in the program. They were split across 3 sessions of 45 mins. The program was held, as always, at the Aquatic Safety Training Academy (ASTA) in Seven Hills (our partners in this program) and ran for 10 week days from Jan 14 – Jan 25th, the last 2 weeks of the school holidays. The kids had a great deal of fun, progressed well and received certificates of accomplishment at the end of the program, allowing us to track progress.
The program also provided some water safety and CPR sessions for the parents while their offspring were in the pool, thus improving the communities water safety & first aid capacity, something these very disadvantaged communities seldom get access to. As well swimming lessons for some of the mothers are commencing in April.
The program ran very smoothly this year and a few of the parents who have been involved for a number of years helped out, which is very empowering for the community. The program was very successful, meeting all its aims and objectives.
The program had more demand than we could supply places as the community have come to rely on the program every summer holidays, not just to teach the kids swimming and water safety but also as a way of keeping them amused in a healthy activity over the long summer holidays and a nice venue to meet up with other parents and socalise.
Last year we were very excited because during our first ever advanced program a number of our regular participants achieved their bronze medallion, a nationally recognised lifesaver certification, a real achievement for them and for their communities. This year we continued to build this capacity with some of these bronze medallion holders now working towards their Instructors qualification. So these swimmers (who have come through our program over the years) attended this year’s program in a very different capacity – helping the teachers on a volunteer basis and learning how to teach swimming. So as part of this program the two who are old enough are now enrolled in the formal two day instructors course in April. All going well we will have two young people who started in our program be qualified to teach swimming in this financial year, achieving a long term end goal of ours. This not only increases capacity in the community but is a big boost to the individuals involved and equips them will a skill that can provide them employment. It is hard to state how proud we are of them to have come this far.
Due to the age requirements of the Instructors course (minimum age is 16) we plan to increase the eligibility age of our program next year. And so the program continues to evolve as we strive to learn from past years and continually improve. We were fortunate this year to get extra funding late in 2018 from Uncle Tobys, which along with the balance of the Sydney Motor Corporation (SMC) grant enabled HARDA to run the program. We are very grateful to both sponsors and ASTA and extend HARDA & the communities heartfelt thanks.
HARDA’s partnership with ‘Kids Giving Back’ continues to flourish with children and parents of diverse cultural backgrounds enjoying various activities in the spirit of generosity. Here are images of two fun days in September and October 2018. A third day out at Coogee beach will take place in November. Thanks to all the parents and children and to the organisers from KGB.
HARDA is a not-for-profit based in Australia.
We have no presence in Uganda and do not employ anyone in Africa.