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67% of Parents in the North West say Swimming is the Most Important Sport

Annie and her family

THE leading educational charity dedicated to the teaching of swimming and lifesaving skills, to promote the importance of learning to swim and water safety education  STA (Swimming Teachers' Association) has revealed findings from a new report, which shows that 67% of parents in the North West think swimming is the most important sport for children to learn; with 63% saying its an invaluable life skill.  This independent research, carried out online by Opinion Matters for the STA, has been published to coincide with:- 'International Learn to Swim Week;' a campaign that is being led by STA that ran from 13 May to 18 May 2019.   We are told that this research was conducted throughout February 2019 amongst a panel resulting in more than 1000 parents, with children under 16 responding.  However, while this research suggests parents understand the true importance of swimming, the reality is a lot different with only a of parents saying they take their children swimming at least once a week, with membership costs and inflexible pool opening times being cited as the main reasons. Furthermore, only 12% of the parents surveyed by STA in the North West said that their child has swimming lessons through their School. This reveals, unsurprisingly, that there is now an even greater responsibility on parents to ensure their child can swim and is water safe, but as the survey suggests, many don't have the time or the money; this means that countless children are missing out on the opportunity to learn a vital life skill.

During the week long campaign, STA have been promoting the importance of children attending regular, structured swimming lessons; and why, especially in the Primary years of a child's life, consideration should be given to prioritising lessons over other paid for extra curricular activities.  STA also want to encourage more families to spare more time to go swimming together; not only to support their child's swimming lesson progression, but because of all the:- social, health and fitness benefits it can bring to a family. Plus, it is 1 of only a few activities where families can bond, and play and join in with together.

Zoe Cooper, STA's Director and a mum of two children under 5 years old, said:- "As parents, we know how important it is for our children to learn how to swim and the research positively confirms this, but we now must start to bridge the gap between knowing and doing, and prioritise swimming; ideally through structured lessons, but also socially as a family. Learning to swim is a life skill that every child should be given the opportunity to learn, and if children are not being given the opportunity at School, we need to find practical ways to help encourage families to go swimming more often with their children."

STA has also recruited its 1st 'Water Safety Squad' who are a team of young:- 'Water Ambassadors' who each have a unique swimming story to share, and who will be promoting the importance of learning to swim within their own communities with friends and families.

Swim the Channel for Heart Research UK without a single mouthful of seawater

FOLLOW in the footsteps of David Walliams and take on the English Channel for Heart Research UK, all from the comfort of your local pool. Forget dodging tankers and battling currents, this year Heart Research UK are asking you to take on their:- 'Swim the Channel Challenge,' and conquer the English Channel in your local baths to raise money for their pioneering medical research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.  Swim as an individual or a team, get some friends, family and colleagues to sponsor you and complete 22 miles over 12 weeks, whilst improving your fitness and raising money for a great cause. This is the perfect challenge to take on if you don't have much time. It can be done whenever and wherever suits you and is open to children and adults alike. In the last 10 years, Heart Research UK has funded over ₤10.2m in medical research in Hospitals and Universities across the UK, as well as ₤2.2m on innovative community based lifestyle projects to improve the heart health of the nation. Heart Research UK are taking on heart disease, the nation's single biggest killer, and they need your help. Sign up online or by calling:- 0113 234 7474 and you'll be fully supported and sent a fundraising pack including a swim diary to track your lengths, sponsorship forms, tips and posters to promote your challenge.

Liverpool appoints TV star as its 1st "cycling champion"

Riding High - TV Actor/Presenter Simon O'Brien says Liverpool is "a cycling heaven" waiting to happen.

LIVERPOOL City Council has appointed actor, TV presenter and environmentalist Simon O'Brien to be its 1st cycling champion. Simon, who 1st rose to fame as as Damon Grant and has been acting and presenting ever since on programmes such as Rough Guide and To Buy Or Not To Buy, is about to take time off from his current award winning Channel 4 series:- 'Find It, Fix It, Flog It' to be tasked with revolutionising the City's cycling offer by linking up Liverpool's major green spaces with a series of new routes. Having swapped the car for his beloved bike 35 years ago, Simon, who once ran a cycling café, in the City Centre, is uniquely positioned to carry out the new role having led a major review into Liverpool's parks and cycled more than 1,500 miles to explore potential routes.

Simon O'Brien said:- "Liverpool is a cycling heaven waiting to happen. Now with the full support of the Council, it's time to make the vision a reality."

Liverpool City Council has made the appointment as it enters a new phase of delivering a ₤500m upgrade to the City's highways network and is about to pilot green corridors through the URBAN GreenUP project; a key recommendation of the:- 'Green and Open Spaces' review. Key to its:- 'Better Roads' programme is improving access for all road users, especially cyclists with plans including connecting the City's southern and northern shorelines to create a 30 mile riverside route.

Mayor Joe Anderson, said:- "Cities like Liverpool need to rethink how people use transport and I'm delighted Simon has accepted our invitation to become Liverpool's 1st cycling champion. He'll be a great asset because has an unbelievable passion for cycling and a huge love for Liverpool; as well as a vast wealth of knowledge and experience. He's already mapped out the City by bike when he carried out the Green and Open Spaces Review and I'm looking forward to hearing his ideas on how we can transform how people use our beautiful parks by giving cyclists a series of green corridors to explore and enjoy. I want to see a real step change in Liverpool's cycling offer that will benefit people for generations to come and leaves a legacy of a healthier and cleaner environment for our grandchildren to enjoy."

The role of the Cycling Champion, who will work alongside the Council's Walking, Cycling and Green Space Officers, is also seen as a key part of the City's 'Clean Air and Fitness' strategies to reduce pollution and improve health and wellbeing rates.

Did you know that Liverpool City Council recently unveiled its 100th Bike Station , that is located at Stanley Dock, Liverpool, within the Ten Streets Creativity District? Also did you know that the area has a growing network of Community Cycling Ambassadors for Simon to work with?

Cllr James Noakes, Cabinet member for Highways and the Environment, added:-
"We haven't always got cycling right and improving the offer will be a big challenge, but Liverpool has lots of great cycling facilities across the City and Simon will help us develop a better offer. Having worked with him on the Green and Open Spaces review I know he has a real desire to transform how the City can engage with the cycling community and provide a new network of routes that makes the most of our fabulous open spaces."

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