CV Life’s Pool Helpers progamme returned this weekend at Xcel Leisure Centre with 15 eager participants.
The quarterly events are run by CV Life swimming instructor coordinator Ravi Nakra. The idea behind the scheme, which is open to 14 and 15 year olds, is to give young people the chance to gain some first-hand work experience while also earning a bit of pocket money.
But the scheme also works by helping manufacture a future CV Life swim workforce, with many of the youngsters who become pool helpers also going on to be swimming instructors or lifeguards further down the line.
An added element to the programme is that most pool helpers were taught to swim at CV Life venues from as young as three, many of them by Ravi himself.
Ravi said: “The Pool Helper programme is a great way to get teenagers active and learning valuable life lessons. They get all the training, they learn how to handle children, and experience being in a teaching environment by doing 20 hours voluntary work.
“Then when they are ready, we get a special permit from the council – then they help with lessons and become a bit like assistants to the swimming teachers.
“If they stay in the programme, when they reach 16 they can become a swimming teacher or a lifeguard, sometimes they do both.”
Explaining how the programme came about, Ravi continued: “Around seven years ago we were struggling to recruit swimming teachers, so we came up with an idea to grow our own, and the Pool Helper programme was born.
“We knew it would take a bit of time before we started to see the benefit, but now our swim school teachers are 70 percent from the pool helper programme – a good chunk of them I taught to swim myself.
“It’s incredible, teaching these kids to swim from Ducklings, aged three, building up their confidence, but then seeing them passing on the knowledge they’ve learned on to young kids like they were – it’s brilliant, I love it.
“It’s a progamme I’m so passionate about because when I see people I’ve known since they were knee-high, working alongside me to teach other little ones, you really see the impact swimming can have. It makes me feel so proud and it is something I’ll never tire of. I love my job and being able to make a difference to people’s lives through swimming.”