Free children’s swim program launched to help keep regional kids safe
Program established as a legacy to two year old Hunter Boyle
[Pictured: Parents Ash, Matt, and son Hunter]
The Hunter Boyle Children’s Swim Program Pilot was today proudly launched by Ash Napolitano and Matt Boyle, with the support of Kidsafe Victoria, at Aquamoves in Shepparton.
The Program was established by Ash and Matt in honour of their 2-year-old son, Hunter, after he drowned in a dam in August 2020.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for Australian children under 5 years of age. Victoria is currently experiencing the highest childhood drowning rate in over 20 years (since 1999/2000), with 13 drowning deaths of children aged 0-14 years between July 2020 and January 2021.
Kidsafe Victoria CEO, Melanie Courtney, highlighted the dangers that water can pose for children.
“20 seconds and a few centimetres of water is all it takes for a toddler to drown. This means that dams, rivers, water tanks, animal drinking troughs, fish ponds, and even pet’s water bowls can all pose a potential drowning hazard.”
Ash and Matt have partnered with Kidsafe Victoria to help ensure that children in the Shepparton region who would not ordinarily have the means to access swimming lessons, are provided with the opportunity to learn these lifelong skills. Their hope is that this Program will be rolled out across all of regional Victoria.
Ash Napolitano expressed how much this Program means to Hunter’s legacy.
“We don’t want Hunter to just be another statistic and without Kidsafe our idea would be just that – still an idea. We are so proud to launch this Program, which will help to save lives. Working with Kidsafe has been amazing.”
“The Shepparton community has been incredible and assisted us in raising over $40,000 to kick start the Program. We can’t wait to see what else we can do in Hunter’s name – this is only the beginning”, said Ms Napolitano.
The Program, which provides children with free swimming lessons for 12 months, water safety education and swimming accessories for them and their parents, is supported by a number of local community organisations including the Greater Shepparton City Council, Aquamoves and The Bridge Youth Service.
Ms Courtney emphasised the vital role that swimming programs play in keeping children safe in and around water and the importance of ensuring that all families have access to them.
“Water familiarisation and swimming classes play an important role in helping children to become confident around water, while also teaching them water safety and survival skills. The more children we have in Victoria who are equipped with these vital skills, the more impact we will see in terms of a reduction in drowning rates.”
“We are proud to partner with Ash and Matt – their bravery, strength and dedication will not only provide local children with the opportunity to learn these skills, but will also go a long way to saving lives”, said Ms Courtney.
Kidsafe Victoria would like to acknowledge and thank the Greater Shepparton City Council, Aquamoves and The Bridge Youth Service for their support of this Program.
Background on Hunter Boyle drowning incident:
On 12 August 2020, Ash Napolitano and Matt Boyle lost their beautiful 2-year-old boy, Hunter. Tragically, he drowned in a Grahamvale dam while visiting his Grandfather’s farm. He was feeding the horses, when in an instant he went missing and was found unresponsive in the water a short time later.
Hunter was rushed to Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton where doctors, nurses and members of The Royal Children’s Hospital PIPER Unit spent close to seven hours fighting to save his life. Devastatingly, Hunter couldn’t be saved.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.