‘Project Sunset’ OPP Youth Initiative for National Drowning Prevention Week

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(FORT FRANCES, ON) – Project Sunset is an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) youth-centered engagement strategy taking place in Ontario’s North West Region.

The Project is ground breaking in that it is a year-round initiative led by the police, designed to proactively address root causes of crime, social disorder and crisis through community partnerships. Community partners such as Treaty Three Police, Dryden City Police, Naicatchewenin First Nation, Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre, Rainy River District School Board, Keewatin Patricia District School Board, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (Quetico Provincial Park), Spirit of the Paddle and 7 Fires Outdoors are working together to empower youth with important life skills needed to avoid the pitfalls of high risk situations, especially around water.

The OPP takes drowning prevention seriously! Drowning death rates climb as children enter their teenage years and begin to “push the envelope” with riskier behaviour. “It is important to get ahead of that curve and be proactive to prevent tragedies before they happen”, says Sgt. Anne McCoy, OPP Special Projects Coordinator.

“Drowning is preventable! Statistics report that one in five drowning victims were weak or non-swimmers. Project Sunset takes a strengths-based approach to mitigating such risks with youth in this program. Not only is priority being placed on making programming accessible through community collaboration but youth share they are attending programming because they feel safe and supported. We are beginning to uncovering evidence to suggest these positive outcomes are leveraged because facilitators place emphasis positive, safe and healthy behaviour rather than focusing on negative or deficit based behaviour.”

Between January and March 2018, Project Sunset offered ‘Swim to Survive’ to youth as part of after-school programming in partnership with local municipal pools and private business establishments. The outcome proved beneficial when participation rates in programming saw a sharp increase. Youth acquired swimming, judgement and decision making skills that have helped them work towards completing their Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA) Basic Canoeing Level One Certification offered this summer. The skillset not only becomes a certification, but as youth mature through the program, they are provided opportunity to further develop these skillsets and community networks that undoubtedly support future employment skills.

National Drowning Prevention Week is here! Our summer students Jacy and Kelsey sharing a few Water Smart tips to help keep you safe this summer.

Posted by Lifesaving Society – Saskatchewan Branch on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Project Sunset empowers children to believe in themselves so they feel they are in control over what happens in their lives. Programming helps communities get involved and actively demonstrate they value youth and can to action to help make a positive difference in a child’s life.  The OPP reminds everyone that this week is National Drowning Prevention Week July 15 – 21, 2018.  It is a great time to proactively talk to children about what families can do together to prevent drowning.

Key Messages:

1) Watch me, not your cell phone. Always directly supervise children around the water – if you’re not within arms’ reach, you’ve gone too far.

2) Be Boat Smart and Boat Sober. Alcohol consumption is a factor in almost 40% of boating-related fatalities.

3) Jumping from heights is high risk and high impact.  Drowning can result from resulting head or spinal injuries.

For more information on Project Sunset, please refer to the Project Sunset website at http://www.projectsunset.ca or on Facebook @projectsunset

For more information on important water safety messaging, please refer to Ontario Lifesaving Society at www.lifesavingsociety.com.

The Lifesaving Society designates the third week in July as National Drowning Prevention Week (NDPW) to focus community and media attention on the drowning problem and drowning prevention.