• Swim to Survive Hand_body

NWT Family Swim to Survive® Grant: A Successful First Year!

 April 5, 2017
Posted by NWT Recreation and Parks Association
The Swim to Survive® Grant Reports are in from family organizations and we couldn’t be more proud to announce the success these events had!

Kacey LeBlanc sits on the side of the Hay River pool with instructor Daniel Derossa after learning some Swim to Survive skills during Ecole Boreale’s event (Photo: Kim Ivanko)

In September 2016 the NWTRPA Aquatics Committee, GNWT Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) and Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories started on an important prevention-focused journey. The three organizations were committed to helping NWT families learn to Swim to Survive®.

Although drowning prevention has always been a valued part of each organizations’ mandate, finding ways to promote the issue of drowning safety to NWT residents (especially adults, elders and males) was difficult. After some dialogue between the three organizations, it was decided to approach these challenges together, in an effort to connect with families on the issue through family-centred organizations.

Rolled out by the NWTRPA and Lifesaving Society, with funding assistance from HSS, the Swim to Survive® Grant was born in the NWT. The grant enabled family-centred organizations to host Swim to Survive® events for their members and NWT residents.


Events were dispersed between the four Regional Aquatic Training Centres (RATC’s) in Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik with trained instructors and Swim to Survive® leaders teaching the groups.  Although all events incorporated the teaching of Swim to Survive® skills, there were many different types of events organized. Funding was accessible for things such as: travel to and from an RATC, providing a healthy snack, hiring an instructor, pool rental time, and event promotion.

Some of the great ideas that organizers came up with were: holding an event in conjunction with the Pan Territorial Judo Tournament hosted by the NWT Judo Association, putting on a lesson during the Mackenzie Recreation Association Making Waves water education event in Fort Smith, adding skills to a section of outdoor education for the Echo Dene School in preparation for a canoe trip, and having a private event that encouraged queer and trans youth to build confidence in an aquatic setting.


In the four months that the grant was accessible, 19 events were held by 18 different organizations, including recreation/sports organizations, municipalities, bands, youth centres, daycares and schools.  The events were planned by organizations in 9 different communities – 3 in Beaufort Delta, 4 in Dehcho, and 2 in Akaitcho regions and saw 539 youth, 198 adults, and 12 elders participated for a total of 749 NWT residents. Considering that males have the highest rate of drowning in the NWT (NWT Drowning Report, 2016) it was important to the NWTRPA, Health and Social Services and the Lifesaving Society that there be a special focus on male participation.  We are delighted that 319 males participated in the events accounting for 43% of the participants!

One of the many great prizes provided by the Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories that was given out to participants at the Swim to Survive® events.


Although it will take some time to review the results of the report, the hope is to continue the grant and reach many more NWT  families in the future. In the meantime, the NWTRPA plans to continue to support the Swim to Survive® program and connect with seasonal aquatic pools this summer to offer prize packs to those that wish to run an event. The Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories also offers the Swim to Survive® toolkit to youth groups, school teachers, and community leaders who are interested in bringing the Swim to Survive® program to their community.

If you would like more information on the Swim to Survive® program, click here or contact the Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories at experts@lifesaving.org or call 780-415-1755.

If you would like more information about the results from the Swim to Survive® Grant, you can contact the NWTRPA Aquatics Coordinator, Rose Johnson, at rconstantineau@nwtrpa.org or call 403-406-9475.