More than 250 youngsters are getting lessons in playing it safe in the surf on Seaburn Beach.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has been running ‘Hit the Surf’ sessions for eight-to 11 year old primary school pupils.
Lifeguard manager Carl Harris said: “Each session lasts two-and-a-half hours and includes a lesson on staying safe at the beach as well as explaining the role the RNLI and our lifeguards play.
“We talk about things like the importance of always swimming between the red and yellow flags, and what to do if you get into trouble.
“This is followed with a lifesaving lesson and the chance to learn surf based skills which help build the children’s confidence in the sea.
“Our charity’s lifeguards also teach them what hazards they need to watch out for at the beach. The idea is that they then take that advice home and share it with family and friends.”
Sunderland schools taking part in the sessions are Hylton Castle Primary School, Valley Road Community School, Barmston Village Primary School, South Hylton Primary School, St Benet’s Primary School, Grangetown Primary School, Eppleton Academy, Hudson Road Primary School and St Patrick’s Primary School.
King Edwin’s School and Lobley Hill School, from Gateshead, are also sending groups to the sessions.
The Hit the Surf lessons are part of Sunderland’s annual water safety programme which has seen the RNLI joining forces with the City Council and the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) to promote water safety.
This has included giving water safety talks to more than 1,200 primary school pupils over the last year and the launch of a DVD warning young people about the risks of open water, featuring friends of tragic Washington school girls Chloe Fowler and Tonibeth Purvis, who died in 2013 after getting into difficulty in the River Wear.
Thank you to the RNLI for supporting our children’s future.St Benet’s headteacher Ann Blakey
St Benet’s headteacher Ann Blakey said: “I am delighted that the RNLI are able to continue to run ‘Hit the Surf’ sessions.
“We are very fortunate as this is the second year that we have been involved. I think that the teaching is invaluable.
“We are a city with a large river and are situated on the coast, therefore, children need skills for life. Thank you to the RNLI for supporting our children’s future.”
City council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “We want people to enjoy everything our seafront has to offer but to be aware of the dangers too, which is why we have been working with partners including the RNLI and the RLSS to raise awareness.
“Sessions like the ones being put on this week by the RNLI are a really good way of helping people get a better understanding of how to stay safe around water. “