Ice and steady!


More than 100 schoolchildren are joining forces with a North East ice hockey team to highlight an important water safety message on World Water Day.

Children from more than 20 North East primary schools in Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and Newcastle upon Tyne will join the Newcastle Vipers at the crucial, final league game before the play-offs, to highlight awareness of the ‘Young Pucks Play Safe’ scheme as the Easter break approaches.

Reporters and photographers are invited to meet the schoolchildren and Vipers players on the ice after the Newcastle Vipers Vs Coventry Blaze game at Newcastle Arena, NE4 7NA on Sunday, March 22 2009 at 7.30pm. Entry is via the promotions door at the front of the arena.

Young Pucks Play Safe is a water safety initiative, developed by between the Newcastle Vipers Community Foundation, Northumbrian Water and Whoops Child Safety.

Community coaches and Vipers players deliver one-hour sessions in primary schools, raising awareness of water safety and highlighting the dangers of playing in and around water. A thirty-minute safety talk is following by a thirty-minute ball hockey coaching session.

Since launching the scheme in July 2008, more than 4500 schoolchildren have been reached, from more than 70 primary schools across Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland.

Jaimie Longmuir, Vipers general manager, said: “The Newcastle Vipers Community Foundation is an integral part of our organisation and its important for us to give something back to the communities we serve.

“We were recently awarded the Sport Newcastle Community Project of the Year for our work with youngsters across the region, and the Young Pucks Play Safe campaign played a significant part towards this honour.”

Louise Hunter, head of corporate responsibility at Northumbrian Water, said: “As a responsible business with a number of leisure sites around the region, we know that water is great fun, but can also be very dangerous for youngsters. The Young Pucks Play Safe campaign is a great way of raising water safety awareness as the Easter break approaches.”

Millie Griffiths-Long, aged six, who attends Pelton Community Primary School near Chester le Street, said: “It was very exciting to meet the Vipers. I know not to play next to rivers or stand on ice because there might be deep water underneath it.”   

The game on March 22 is the final league game of the season and will determine their position for the forthcoming play-offs. The Vipers currently stand 7th in the league with 34 points.

In 1992, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day, to draw international attention to the critical lack of clean, safe drinking water worldwide. 

Clean water is essential for life, but over a billion people in the world do not have it. This and the lack of sanitation result in over two million people dying from water-related diseases every year. The lack of clean water close to people′s homes also affects people′s time, livelihoods and quality of life.

For more information contact Leanne Clough on 0191 301 6733.

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