The Bay’s world of water

Connor Brown, 3, Ange Johnston, Matilda Moore, 3, Ryder Sizemore, 4, and Cartier McGreal, 3. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

A lot of exploring and playing in the Bay of Plenty usually has something to do with water.

We’re surrounded by oceans, lakes and rivers – and Sport of Plenty’s Play in the Bay Water Month for November celebrates this.

Whether you’re about to dip your toe in or are already a water baby, there’s something new for everyone to try in November’s activity line-up – for young and old alike.

There are beginner and intermediate sessions of stand-up paddleboarding and waka ama, a new swimming challenge at Memorial Pool, adult ‘learn to swim’ classes at Baywave and Greerton pools, a kids’ ‘learn to snorkel’ programme – and an introduction to BeachKidz at Papamoa Beach.

Run by Ange Johnston, BeachKidz is a programme designed for children aged two-five where they learn basic water safety skills and safe practices through play and fun.

“Our programme promotes surf safety awareness to children and their parents,” says Ange.

“We do beach activities on the sand and in the water, which allow children to learn new skills and explore the beach environment.”

“We do activities such as running races, jumping, dune walks, wading through the water, boogie boarding, body surfing, eyes under water, holding your balance in the waves, and much more.”

“A lot of kids who come to the programme are nervous about going in or near the water, the beach environment is a lot different from a swimming pool; it has so many more elements to it that can change everyday. We help them gain confidence and allow them to have fun in and around the water at their own pace.”

And participation of parents and caregivers is key to helping children to gain confidence more quickly, says Ange.

“We get the parents engaged and get them to understand they need to always be at arm’s reach of their child, holding hands or next to them in the water. Our parents are fully engaged in the programmes activities.

“And what happens if the parents do it? The children will do it. Our kids love having their parent and caregivers there having fun with them in the water, there is always plenty of laughs!”

The idea is parents will feel more confident taking their families to the beach and enjoy being safe in, on or around the water this summer and in future. By starting off at an early age, you’re giving your children confidence to continue to grow and be more aware of safety around water, says Ange.

“A lot of parents don’t take time out to spend with their kids at the beach for many reasons including not feeling confident themselves around the water or because their kids are very nervous around waves. They come to the programme to gain this confidence within themselves and their kids, and we have so many really cool moments of achievements within the families.”

“So it’s about taking advantage of our amazing beaches but understanding and learning how to be safe.”

Beach Kidz runs 10 kids per class and as part of Play in the Bay they are offering special introductory classes for families to have a go on Wednesday November 16 and 23 at 4pm-4.30 pm and Thursdays November 17 and 24 from 12-12.30 pm. All classes are on the beach below Papamoa Surf Club. Email: michelleb@sportbop.co.nz to register.

Introductions to waka ama stand-up paddleboarding are on November 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 at Pilot Bay. Register with Porina McLeod at: porinamcl@gmail.com Or Swim the Cook Straight during November at Memorial Pool. Call 07 578 6091 for more information.

Adult ‘learn to swim’ classes are at Baywave or Greerton Pools on November 15, 17, 22, 24, 29 and December 1. Email: michelleb@sportbop.co.nz to register.

And kids ‘learn to snorkel’ is on November 16, 23, 30 and December 7 at Mount Hot Pools. Email: michelleb@sportbop.co.nz to register.

For the full water month activity calendar, see: www.sportbop.co.nz/watermonth




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