As a sporting club we must do our best to ensure the safety, well being, personal and sporting development of our members, especially as a large proportion of these members are young people.
We should be aware of the British Canoe Union’s statement and code of ethics on child protection – to safeguard and promote the interests of the children with whom we work, take all practical steps to protect them from harm, discrimination or degrading treatment, and respect their rights, wishes and feelings.
Safety and Physical Well Being
- Ensure a good swimming capability
- Equipment should be properly maintained and be suitable size and design for the paddlers. This will also minimise the risk of capsize especially in winter.
- Use buoyancy aids as and when necessary and when parents request them.
- Teach the skills necessary for members to manage a variety of water conditions. This is a gradual process and will entail taking members out in flood conditions to learn.
- Emphasise the importance of obedience on the water to both children and parents.
- Keep groups to a manageable size and as compatible as possible. Beginners 1:1 – 1:4, improvers 1:4 – 1:8. Less in adverse conditions.
- Ensure that members are wearing suitable clothing for the weather conditions. Guard against hypothermia, coaches carry extra clothing.
- Training and activities should be carefully suited to the ability of the group – not too long or demanding and related to weather conditions (hot or cold).
Emotional Well Being Competition can cause stress
- Encourage and discuss good sporting attitudes. Take steps to avoid competition developing into unpleasant rivalry (or possibly bullying).
- Children may be subjected to unreasonable pressure to perform by either coach or parents. Avoid this by setting reasonable, achievable goals and focus on personal best performances and improvements. Avoid regularly comparing one child with another to the detriment of one.
- Encourage parents to be part of the club and the sport, and also to give back up to the coaches’ help and instruction. Good understanding and respect between parents and coaches will minimise stress to children.
- Changing rooms – adults and children share the same changing rooms, often at the same time. We consider that, although this may cause minor embarrassment at times it serves to monitor any misconduct of any time (bullying, teasing etc) and has not proved a problem. In cases of shyness and embarrassment coaches should not force children to shower but advise parents that it is advisable to do so when the child gets home, as a protection against water borne diseases. However, even if special arrangements have to be made, children must change out of wet kit immediately at all times.
- Signs of abuse of any kind, whether occurring at the club or to members attending the club must be reported to Yvonne Thorogood.
- If coaches, parents, club officials or members detect any signs of children having been neglected or physically or emotionally abused, the matter should be carefully observed and reported so that the committee can pass the matter over to the relevant agencies.
Good communications between all coaches is necessary and to that end the club coaches meet informally approximately once a month, to discuss all matters to do with the coaching programme at the club.
Before embarking on an activity, be sure you are aware of the capabilities of the children involved. Check with other coaches who may know the child better.
This will enable you to consider the following –
- Are all the children in the correct boats and using the correct paddle?
- Have all the boats got buoyancy? Get paddlers to check personal boats.
- What is the suitable clothing for the day, should anyone be in a lifejacket?
- Are the water conditions suitable for this group?
- What part of the river would be most suitable for this group?
- What activities would be most appropriate?
- How long should the session be?
- Consider the weather and current. It is easy going downstream with the wind behind for 20 minutes, but it may take 40 minutes to get back by which time the children will be tired and cold.
- Set achievable goals.
- Give plenty of encouragement.
- Avoid comparing one child with another, work on personal improvement.
- Do not use sarcasm or ridicule.
- Take care when choosing teams for an activity – is the same child always left until last?
- Let the child decide when he is ready to race.
- Accompany the child on races at first.
- Make sure the child is ready and confident before changing boats. Pick a pleasant day and make the training easy – maybe drop down a group for the day.
- Chat casually with parents whenever possible. Make sure there are no problems and develop a co-operative relationship that helps both parties to respect and understand one another.
- Be aware of any changing room problems – bullying, shyness, teasing, and embarrassment. Encourage showering and explain why, but do not insist too heavily.
Safeguard Your Reputation
- In the case of capsize it may be necessary for children to remove wet clothing. Do not assist without asking if they want help, have other members of the group in the vicinity if possible.
- When coaching there are many occasions, especially in the gym, when a coach may assist a movement by handling the shoulders, waist etc. This should be avoided unless there are other people around and you have explained beforehand what you are going to do and why.
- Avoid being alone with any one child. Work, travel etc. with more than one child at a time.
- Try to give each child in the group a fair share of your attention and encouragement.