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 received a grant from Multicultural NSW through their Empowering and Supporting Local Communities Program which will allow us to continue to provide this emergency support and Covid information to members of our community who are struggling to put food on the table due to the Covid pandemic.
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’s partnership with “Kids Giving Back’ continues to bring love and happiness to children from the Horn background. The third session of connecting communities is the Coogee beach one where children participated in water safety that was taught my life savers at the beach.
Our major thanks goes to the organisers from KGB, and the Life savers from Coogee Surf Life Saving Club for their tremendous support and of course to all parents and children.
This program took place between Oct 2017 and Dec 2018 and was held in partnership with ANSA & Auburn Sports Club. It involved weekly soccer games, mentoring and leadership workshops. This culminated in a soccer tournament with 16 teams representing various African communities in Sydney, involving about 300 players.
24 young persons aged between 10-15, 11 girls and 13 boys – representing the South Sudanese and Somali Community, completed the program. The program was designed for those who had obtained the highest rankings at the sessions held by HARDA for several years during January holidays.
HARDA’s ambition is to progress the better swimmers into becoming life savers and/or swimming instructors. This would greatly raise the capacity of the communities. The program produced excellent outcomes.
8 youth obtained their bronze medallions, thus qualifying to become life savers when old enough to pass the exams.
3 youths obtained their bronze star.
The other participants progressed well enough to pass and can look forward to getting their medallion status next year.
Congratulations to all the swimmers for their excellent attitude and application, thank you to the parents for their great support and thanks to the Sydney Motor Corporation for the grant to enable the program.