Last week 10 children from the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children’s Charity took part in two free swimming sessions at South Norfolk Council’s Diss Leisure Centre.
The children, from some of the most disadvantaged areas of Belarus, enjoyed two fun educational sessions in the pool run by the Council’s experienced Swim School teacher Lindsey Chapman, who gave up her time for free.
Lindsey said: “At first, many of the children were unsure of the water, but they soon started enjoying themselves and they didn’t want the sessions to end.”
The children who could swim were shown how to do all the different strokes and learnt new skills such as somersaults and handstands, while the complete beginners were taught water confidence and basic stroke techniques to enable them to move in the water.
Lindsey added: “It was amazing to be able to support this fantastic charity that does so much for these children and gives them experiences they could never have dreamed of.”
Each year the Diss branch of the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children Charity hosts a group of disadvantaged children from areas of Belarus which have been badly contaminated by the fallout of the Chernobyl explosion.
South Norfolk Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being Yvonne Bendle said: “We’re so pleased that we could help this charity by giving them some pool time. The children live in such poverty, and even though it’s been 30 years since Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster, it’s still affecting people’s health, especially through contaminated food and water. It’s a wonderful charity and I’m delighted we could support it.”
Kirsty Neve, the Charity’s branch co-ordinator for Diss said:
"We are very grateful to Lindsey and Diss Leisure Centre for offering the children swimming lessons as most of them wouldn’t get that opportunity at home and we know what an important life skill it can be."
While in the UK, the children have also seen the dentist and optician, visited the seaside (some for the first time) joined in at local schools, learnt first aid, been to the zoo, circus and have even enjoyed a traditional Christmas Day.
Kirsty said: "It's always such a privilege to see the difference these visits make to the children’s energy levels and confidence over the month they are here. They return home with a suitcase full of vitamins, warm clothing and memories of their second families in Diss."
The charity is always looking for support and sponsors. If you can help, please contact Kirsty Neve on 07706899093 or 01379 890310, or email firstname.lastname@example.org