Kotzebue kids travel to Anchorage for vital water safety skills session

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Thirty-six kids traveled from Kotzebue to Anchorage to participate in a state-run program focused on water safety skills.

"We have an awesome opportunity for students of the Northwest Arctic," said Joe Groves, an instructor with the Northwest Arctic Borough who also served as the primary teacher during Tuesday's lesson, offered through an awarded grant.

"We chose to use that for water safety for the students all over the region," he said."

Students from ten different villages traveled to Anchorage to learn about boating safety, cold water survival, rules of the road and even how to swim through the Water Safety and Academic Adventure Program, with many of them never having left their home villages before.

"In Kotzebue, almost every town has water access," Groves said. "Kids love to swim and want to take advantage of that, but there's probably half a dozen out here that don't know how to swim, so we really want to give them some tools that they can use at their home community."

Kids at the session Tuesday, held in and by Goose Lake, learned safe paddling skills, trip planning and education, situational awareness and risk assessment near the water, and more.

The program is only a few days long, but serves a much larger purpose, Groves said.

"They can really use these tools for the rest of their life, and maybe they'll be teaching their kids how to swim later."

Video by Channel 2 photojournalist Kim Daehnke.
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