2023/2024 is the Year of Youth designated by the Commonwealth Heads of Government.

RLSS supports this and aligns youth focussed activities to the Year of Youth.

Downing affecting young people

Age is one of the major risk factors and drowning disproportionally impacts young people.

According to The Global report on Drowning (2014)

  • Worldwide, the highest drowning rates are among children 1-4 years, followed by children 5-9 years.
  • Drowning is one of the 10 leading causes of death for people aged 1-24 in all regions of the world.
  • Globally, over half of all drowning deaths are among those aged under 25 years.
  • Males are twice as likely to drown as females.

Young people in the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth’s 56 member countries have a combined population of 2.5 billion people, of which more than 60% are under 30 years of age. RLSS adopts that age as our definition of youth.

Young people in RLSS

Young people play a vital and valued part of RLSS and it’s members at many levels. We support interventions that enable youngsters to be safe near and around water by learning vital water safety skills and encourage the engagement and participation of young people in addressing drowning prevention in the commonwealth.

Sport encourages engagement of young people in drowning prevention activities. The Commonwealth Lifesaving Championships is the Society’s high performance sporting event but we also encourage grassroots sporting activities and will launch our Sport for all programme in 2023 providing an introduction to lifesaving sport with focus on low resourced settings.

We are committed to support and promote youth within our member organisations and have developed a Youth strategy and Youth Position Statement.

Young people in our structure

Our volunteer Youth Advocate works with RLSS Directors and Headquarters to support the development and implementation of activity that ensures young people are engaged and involved. Youth members serve on many of our committees and working groups and those of our member organisations.

In addition to the Youth Advocate, we have a Youth trustee to ensure that we have a youth perspective in the decision-making process of the Society and who works with the Youth Advocate to ensure youth engagement in our activities and future planning.

We have created a Youth Advisory Group made up of young people for our member organisations which meets once a month virtually to plan activities and discuss Society issues that impact on youth.

Recognition of Young People

Annually, RLSS issues Young Lifesaver of the Year certificates for our member organisations allowing them to recognise the valuable work of youngsters. In addition, we have the Russell Medal awarded annually for the most outstanding resuscitation or attempted resuscitation by a person under 21 years of age.