Lifesaving Society translates essential drowning prevention information into
26 languages

RBC Foundation funding helps swimming safety tips reach more Ontarians

TORONTO, Nov. 12 /CNW/ - The Lifesaving Society has partnered with RBC to translate important drowning prevention information into 26 additional languages in an effort to reach out to new immigrant parents in Ontario. The charitable organization is now offering important details about Swim to Survive, the children's drowning prevention program, in multiple languages, including: Chinese, Hindu, Italian, Punjabi, Urdu, Russian and Portuguese.

The massive translation project is part of the Lifesaving Society's ongoing commitment to teach all children about the importance of water safety and drowning prevention skills. The translated information package includes a letter explaining the Swim to Survive program during school time, a handout explaining why all children should learn basic survival swimming skills and a letter at the end of the program detailing what the children have learned and the importance of enrolling their children in additional swimming instruction. It is directed to parents and guardians, and until now, had only been available in English and French.

Barbara Byers, Public Education Director for the Lifesaving Society, says it was critical to reach out to new Canadians who don't use English or French as their primary language.

"We know that more than 125,000 newcomers immigrate to Ontario each year," Byers states. "It was essential that we reach Ontarians in multiple languages about programs offered for drowning prevention, to ensure that the growing immigrant population, many of whom may have little knowledge or experience with recreational swimming and water safety, have the tools to help safeguard their children."

The translation efforts would not have been possible without a recent $18,000 grant from the RBC Foundation, which allowed the Lifesaving Society to convert the Swim to Survive parent information package into the following languages: Arabic; Chinese; Czech; Farsi; Greek; Gujarati; Hindi; Hungarian; Italian; Khmer; Korean; Macedonian; Pashto; Polish; Portuguese; Punjabi; Romanian; Russian; Somali; Spanish; Tagalog; Tamil; Twi; Ukrainian; Urdu and Vietnamese.

"RBC has a long-standing commitment to diversity, welcoming new Canadians and doing our part to enable their success," said Tony DePascal, RBC's Vice President, Commercial Financial Services - Peel Supply Chain. "From financial advice to safety information, RBC knows it is important to remove language barriers and ensure equal access to information. We welcome this opportunity to support Canada's diverse communities by helping the Lifesaving Society to ensure this crucial safety information is fully accessible to all."

According to Byers, access to Swim to Survive is especially significant for new Canadians living in Ontario.

"Ontario has the most culturally diverse population in Canada, with more than one in four residents born outside the country. Because this province has an abundance of fresh water, swimming lessons and drowning prevention techniques are especially important here."

The Swim to Survive program is funded by The Ministry of Education and other partners, and launched in 2005. Through elementary schools, it teaches children in Grade 3 the minimum standard of swimming ability for survival after an unexpected fall into the water. Since it began, more than 200,000 children have completed the program.

Swim to Survive teaches children three basic skills in sequence: roll into deep water; tread water for one minute; and swim 50 metres (Lifesaving statistics show that most people who drown are less than 15 metres from shore or safety). It is not meant as a replacement for standard swimming lessons, however the program is an important first step to being safe around water, and could make the difference between life and death when immersion in water is sudden and unexpected.

According to the 2009 Ontario Drowning Report Update, released in the summer by the Lifesaving Society, nearly 500 Canadians die each year in water-related incidents. The number of water-related death in Ontario is on the rise. In Ontario in 2005 (most recent statistics), there were 164 deaths, or 33 per cent of the national total. There were 492 deaths by drowning in Canada in 2005, a 14 per cent increase over 2004. Ontario led the way with a 24 per cent increase.

About RBC

RBC believes in building prosperity by contributing to the communities in which we live and work. As one of Canada's largest corporate donors, RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives, through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. RBC contributed $99 million to community causes worldwide in 2008, through donations of more than $51.5 million, and an additional $47.5 million in sponsorship of community events.

About the 2009 Drowning Report Update

The Drowning Report information is sourced from the Lifesaving Society and the Chief Coroner's Office, Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General. *2009 results showcase 2005 figures, which is the most recent year for which data is available.

About The Lifesaving Society

The Lifesaving Society, Canada's lifeguarding experts, is a charitable organization working to prevent drowning and water-related injury through its training programs, Water Smart(R) public education and safety management services. Each year in Canada, more than half a million people participate in the Society's swimming, lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership courses. For more information, please visit www.lifesavingsociety.com.

About The Lifesaving Foundation

The Lifesaving Foundation supports the Lifesaving Society's drowning prevention efforts across Canada with project grants. The Lifesaving Foundation is pleased to support this Swim to Survive initiative.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE Lifesaving Society

For further information: For further information: Karen Krugel, PraxisPR, (905) 949-8255 ext. 233, (416) 559-9200 (cell), karen@praxispr.ca; Lauren Grant, PraxisPR, (905) 949-8255 ext. 227, (416) 627-9416 (cell), lauren@praxispr.ca; Barbara Byers, The Lifesaving Society, (416) 490-8844, (416) 727-5636 (cell), barbarab@lifeguarding.com

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