Launched by Coventry Sports Foundation in April this year, an innovative swimming scheme is making a positive impact on the lives of Coventry teenagers. 19 young people aged 13-16 are currently registered with the Swim Helpers Academy, a project set up to help young people gain qualifications, experience and life skills.

Based at the Xcel Leisure Centre in Mitchell Avenue and the AT7 Centre on Bell Green Road, the scheme sees its young members assist qualified instructors during swimming lessons for children, allowing them to learn on the job and giving them the chance of becoming fully-fledged swimming instructors.

As part of their training, participants progress through bronze, silver and gold levels before going on to complete a Level 1 Swimming Instructor qualification. Certain criteria must be met in order to move through the stages, including completing a set number of hours' work, being punctual and reliable, engaging and offering guidance to children and using their own initiative. The bronze level is voluntary, but those who take part are rewarded with free membership to facilities. They're also paid for their work as they move on to silver and gold stages.

Wendy Jackson, Community Development Manager at Coventry Sports Foundation, said:

“This is a unique scheme as it not only inspires young people, but also helps them build on skills for the working world. They learn communication skills, it gives them confidence and gets them ready for the world of work as they have to be punctual, reliable and dressed appropriately, so it is incredibly beneficial for them.”

“Since it was launched in April, we have seen the young people benefit in so many ways. One participant didn’t know what they wanted to do after school and now has aspirations of becoming a swimming teacher,” she went on. “This scheme shows the positives of organisations working with this particular age group and keeping them engaged in sport. We have watched the assistants grow in confidence and most are already using their own initiative and they have become a real asset.”

To find out more about the Swim Helpers Academy and how to get involved, contact Swim Teacher Development Co-ordinator Ravi Nakra by emailing RNakra@covsf.com.