This weeks Ladder is awarded to Martin Coffey, an 86 year resident of St Albans, Christchurch New Zealand, for offering to put millions of dollars of his own money into re-building his local community pool, so local people, especially local children, have a swimming pool in their neighbourhood.
Mr Coffey was upset when the City Council decided not to keep Edgeware Pool, where he had swum as a child. He recalls having “happy memories” saying,
I used to swim there as a boy. In summer I would be there every day of the week and three times on Sundays, when I would climb over the fence. Nobody minded. In my day, everywhere you lived there was a swimming pool. See Christchurch Press 01-02-2010
The Ladder is given to Martin Coffey because of his generosity and the way he acknowledges how he benefited from a community which had a pool where he could swim. We think it wonderful he is happy to invest his own money so local children can experience similar benefits.
Mr Coffey says he worries about the kids who can’t afford transport to travel to the now more distant swimming pools, and feels that “children should not be charged to have a swim.”
The Ladder is also awarded for his refreshing insight that providing local swimming pools (one local people can walk to) will help, in his words, “keep kids off the street” which is another way of saying, “keeping kids out of trouble.”
In New Zealand much concern is expressed about troubled children who are described as being anti-social, alienated, often over-weight and often unable to swim. Many seem to be happy to support policy and funding for intervention programmes so ‘experts’ can work with these troubled young people. Yet there doesn’t appear to be much policy support for investment in local community amenities, such as local pools, where children can have the opportunity to be active and to play together, (much of learning to swim is playing) to get to know each other, and so feel they belong in their local community.
I think children need safe local places for active free play so they can learn how to be social beings who are comfortable with one another. What do you think?
And what do you think also about the move to having more centralized large complexes, as opposed to having local amenities, such as pools?