The Glennie Aquatic team is celebrating after being awarded the Swim Australia’s Outstanding Community Service Award for its latest swim program initiative. Aquaversity is a swim class that helps people of all ages from Sudan to learn to swim and provides a great opportunity to integrate into the Toowoomba community. Run in partnership with the Royal Life Saving Society Queensland Inc, Toowoomba Regional Council and the Toowoomba African Community Aquaversity commenced in September 2017 and was also held in the January 2018 school holidays.

The Glennie Aquatic Centre is  located near the Glennie School in Toowoomba, and has classes for babies, juniors and adults, and is regularly used by the school and its students. Centre Manager for Glennie Aquatic Shannon Townsend said quite a few schools use her centre for swimming lessons and carnivals. “Our instructors notice the alarming number of Sudanese children either frightened of the water or simply not confident in basic swimming skills,” said Shannon. “Sadly this becomes more of an issue when the parents and families of these children are also not confident in or around water.”

Local African Women’s Association advocate Sisilia Ajang works closely with members of her community sharing opportunities with them to help integrate into the Toowoomba community and the Australian lifestyle better. Sisilia spread the word about Aquaversity, and as a result, the instructors introduced 15 babies to their first learn to swim experience, 70 children between the ages of three and seventeen to learn to swim classes, and 12 adults were welcomed to the pool environment.

Through programs like this participants get to be involved in a popular Australian sport, experience achievement in a supportive and inclusive environment and learn a skill that is especially important to life in Australia.

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