Freediving powerhouse AIDA (Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée) has released the AIDA Youth Programme, which aims at teaching water and safety skills to children and adolescents.
The programme was developed by the AIDA Education Committee with the help of the Medical Committee, the newly established Youth Commission and AIDA instructors from around the world.
The AIDA Youth Programme consists of four courses – Bronze Dolphin, Silver Dolphin, Gold Dolphin (6 to 11 years) and AIDA Junior (12 to 15 years). The courses have been thoughtfully designed to develop competence and confidence, following a natural and individual progression rate throughout the courses.
One of the prerequisites for all courses in the programme is the child’s own wish and intent to learn water skills. The courses are skill-oriented, and do not have any performance requirements; on the contrary, a maximum performance limitation is recommended for each course, as advised by the AIDA Medical Committee.
‘Breath holding’ and ‘freediving’ as concepts are not discussed in the programme preventing competitiveness; instead children learn ‘breath control’ among other water skills. Each course may take at least three or four days, and children can be certified at any level – as long as they meet the skill and age requirements.
The courses also have a section dedicated towards educating parents on proper supervision of children and adolescents in the water.
Active AIDA Instructors can be certified as Youth Instructors by passing an online course. Once certified, the Youth Instructor will have access to all the required materials online. The course material contains the Youth Instructor Manual, Youth Standards and Guidelines, liability release and medical form, slides for each course, course completion forms and Youth certificates.
The certificates are designed as standard A4 diplomas that can be printed in colour by instructors or parents; this is one of the steps away from plastic cards that AIDA is taking. The Youth Instructor Manual will guide the instructor on how to teach children effectively, offering a psycho-pedagogical framework, medical and legal reference, examples of exercises and games.
The content of the AIDA Youth Programme was developed by lead author Elena Petrushina, the Education Committee and the Youth Commission, with the collective input from the Medical Committee, experienced AIDA instructors, a legal expert and a sport psychologist.
The very first initiative for the programme came from AIDA France, whom proposed the first edition of the standards for teaching children in 2017 – a document which later became the foundation for the current AIDA Youth Standards.
The AIDA Youth Programme was developed in response to a growing demand for courses with educational guidelines for children. By introducing these new standards and guidelines, AIDA has formed a well-researched programme with a conservative approach, creating a safe and enjoyable teaching and learning experience for instructors, children and adult guardians.
Photo credit: AIDA International