Attendees at the RLSS Emerging Leaders workshop, held at the 2015 World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Penang, Malaysia.
Like any organisation wishing to grow and prosper, nurturing the potential leaders of the future is a critical function of the Society’s management team.
One challenge facing members, particularly in low and middle income countries (LMICs), is a lack of highly trained young people to fulfil the aims of the organisation. Despite committed volunteers worldwide, many members suffer from skills gaps that prevent effective programme delivery.
To start to address these gaps and develop the leaders of the future, the first RLSS Emerging Leaders Workshop was run at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP) in Penang, Malaysia in 2015. The workshop consisted of one day of training either side of the conference, together with an evening event during the conference. The focus was on helping young adults with a keen interest in lifesaving to develop their knowledge of global drowning, and the practical steps that they and their organisations can take to prevent drowning in their communities.
Whilst talented and committed young people from all Commonwealth member branches were invited to the workshop, those from LMICs were sponsored by RLSS to allow them to participate. These young people play a vital role in the global effort to prevent drowning: over 90% of drowning deaths occur in LMICs, more than half of them people under 25.
The workshop was attended by a total of 36 people from 17 countries, including the four RLSS-funded participants from Kenya, Lesotho, Uganda and Mauritius; and 20 RNLI Future Leaders from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan, who attended most of the workshop. RLSS Canada funded two participants from Canada and one from St Lucia; and RLSS UK funded five UK participants. Nile Swimmers funded three Sudanese and one UK participant.
Participants left the workshop with detailed project plans and a clear understanding of the actions required for them to achieve their goals.
As part of the workshop follow-up, participants are contacted every six months to share their progress, and to seek additional support if necessary.
Project highlights so far…
Some of the highlights of these projects so far include:
- A literature review of stakeholders and their areas of interest submitted to the committee working to produce the Canadian National Strategy for Drowning Prevention (Canada);
- A survey of accessibility and inclusivity at Commonwealth Championships distributed and completed by 87 respondents, with results being presented at the RLSS Commonwealth 125th Anniversary Conference (UK);
- Three national TV broadcasts and at least two national radio broadcasts on drowning prevention (Kenya, St Lucia, Lesotho);
- Swim to Survive pilot programme targeting Syrian refugees in Fredericton, New Brunswick (Canada);
- Water safety training in 15 schools, ranging from water safety messages for 85 kindergartners, to a water safety assembly for 200 primary age children and pool-based self-rescue and rescue training for 350 teenage girls (Uganda);
- Training of eight lifeguards on basic rescue techniques using locally-resourced rescue equipment at four beaches where 24 people drowned over Christmas/New Year following discussion with other workshop participants on how to prevent future drownings (Uganda).
Emerging leaders – class of 2015
Some of the participants in the 2015 Emerging Leaders Workshop share their impressions of the Conference and the lessons they learned during the Emerging Leaders workshop sessions.
Hannah Calverley, Murray Robb, Gabbi Simmonds, Jake Hoy and Ben Moore
Emerging Leaders Workshop, Vancouver 2017