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Just like a tropical vacation! But educational! (video)

At the end of March, children from safe homes and substitute homes all over Estonia were able to take part in the traditional pool party, organised by the non-profit association SEB Heategevusfond, at the Tallink Spa. Thank you, Tallink Spa, for having the children visit you for your birthday already the tenth year in a row! In addition to swimming and having fun in the water, the children learned diving, visited saunas and rehearsed the basics of water safety with their teachers. Feast of water: here

Overcoming the fear of water

Events in spas or water parks are particularly looked forward to. In many family homes, they serve as highly motivating prize trips.

Many children have already attended previous pool parties, but are always happy for the opportunity to go again. For Kristjan, it was his first trip to Tallinn and the pool party—his anticipation was twice as great as that of the other children.

The teachers said how great it was to see a child who has never visited a pool before become enriched by a new experience. An apprehensive child may not have the courage to enter the pool at first, but bravely steps inside with a grown up and starts playing and splashing around. All the fear is gone and the pure emotion of joy remains.

How can a rock be so warm?

There was plenty to do in the pool. The children were greeted there by their old friend Captain Hook, who made them laugh with his jokes and gave them the chance to challenge themselves in games.

The children performed all kinds of tricks in the water. From time to time they explored the saunas—it was nice to relax there, as splashing around and having fun in the water is quite tiresome. Tatjana thought: “Sweating in the sauna cleans your body and it just feels so great to go into the water again from the sauna.”

The older girls actually liked spending time in the saunas and the Jacuzzi pools more: it was so nice to stretch out on the sauna bench and talk about your plans for the future. The Turkish hammam became a particular favourite of many. How can a rock be so warm, they wondered, if it is just a rock?

The little ones played in the children’s pool, enjoying the plentiful pool toys and blow-up equipment. The boats, rafts and swim tubes with fun faces on them in the spa were also attractive to the older children.

A particularly cool and special experience was the outdoor pool that you could enjoy even when it was cold outside. The smaller children discovered that they could pull themselves along the water quickly, float and swim and move around by themselves with their vests.

How to dive safely

One of the most exciting activities of the pool party was diving/snorkelling, which the children could try out under the watchful eyes of their instructors. The learned how to put on the gear—the fins, the balloon and the mask. Everyone who wanted to could try in practice how the gear was used.

The children also learned that there are rules that must be followed when diving. They also remembered that even the slightest error can have the most severe consequences. Water may feel nice and enticing, but when being reckless, it shows no mercy and it can all end badly. One should never go swimming or diving in an unfamiliar place or alone. Children are actually not allowed to go swimming at all without a grown-up present.

Several teachers also pulled on the diving gear and explored the underwater world. The teachers led by their example and many children were encouraged by their family parents.

What happens to your ears underwater

The instructors also talked about the possibility of something happening with the gear while in the water—there is always a back-up plan, for example, a back-up hose if the first oxygen hose fails.

Some children got scared when they put on the oxygen mask, because breathing through it is different compared to being in the open air. The children understood that while using it, one must always remain clam, perform certain procedures and follow the rules.

Instructors also gave an overview of the anatomy of the human ear and what happens when you dive deeper into the water. They taught the children how to overcome fear and not panic, as this just makes the dreaded accident more likely to happen.

When the children tried snorkelling they discovered that it requires good lung capacity. The children later acknowledged that it is important to lead a healthy life and exercise to be able to be in the water as long as possible to enjoy the beauty of the underwater world.

In the end there was a competition of who could swim the fastest with fins, and it became clear that you would also need strong legs.

What to do when you meet a shark?

The instructors also taught the children how to use hand signals underwater, since talking is not possible. The children did see the logic in them: for example, when a shark is near, then the movement of the shark’s fin is imitated with the hand.

It was all exciting and time flew by: the children were surprised to hear that their time almost up. Many of the eager divers even forgot about their cocktails.

The instructors were friendly, patient and good with the children. All of the children who were brave enough to try were very happy with the experience. Others could try swimming with masks and fins, which was also a completely different feeling than regular swimming.

Is spitting allowed in the swimming pool?

In addition to diving there were other educational activities planned in the water. Children learned how to use swimming goggles so that they would not fog up. They learned that you need to spit into the goggles, rub the spit to cover the inside and then put the goggles on again. This was a cause for a lot of excitement among the children—what do you mean, spit, and are you really allowed to spit? But when they got to try it out with the instructor everyone could see that they were told the truth and that is what they needed to do.

It was also fun to take photos underwater with special cameras.

The little ones were especially fond of the fishing contest where they could practice coordination and patience.

The children got their own pool floats to take home with them. A teacher asked Aurel whether it would be wise to take it to the sea. The boy did not think it was a good idea, because you’d freeze on the sea when the float breaks.

Joy from being good at something

Diving was, of course, what the children talked about the most after the pool party, as it was a completely new experience for most of them. But they also discussed the usefulness of a life jacket, because they were able to see for themselves that it really does keep a person afloat.

Klaarika was very brave and determined, learned to straighten herself on the water, and found the right position and feel for swimming. The sense of success motivated the girl to pass her new knowledge on to the smaller boys—she was feeling so great that she was able to do something independently and well, helped by just a swimming vest that gave her a sense of security.

Roman was very excited to show to the others that he had learned to swim at school this autumn. Ruslan loved the boat race held by the teachers in the children’s pool, as well as twirling and having water poured on him from inside the wall.

“Don’t be careless!”

At the pool parties there are always children who have never been to a swimming pool before. At the spa they can enjoy being in the water safely with their teachers and with the help of the swimming instructors.

In addition to the joys of water and useful practical experiences, the basics of water safety were also covered once again. On the way home—while discussing what they had seen, done and learned—they came to the conclusion that the most important piece of wisdom is “don’t be careless”.

The children understood that they always need to be cautious of how and where to dive into the water and when to wear safety gear, like a swim ring or arm bands. The older children promised to always mind the smaller ones in the water. One family made a promise together not to joke about the ones who are not yet able to swim.

The day in the big warm pool was what everyone needed in the grey and chilly early spring in Estonia. According to the children, the big, bright and warm Tallink Spa reminded them of a trip to a tropical island—and, indeed, both of them bring joy, relaxation and strength to go on with the daily life.


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