Monday, 21 January 2013

Just Dive In!

My name is Chris Elliott and I’m a 2nd year Computing student at Kingston University. I’m also a member of the KUSU Sub Aqua Club, where I teach as an Instructor. As a club we’ve been branching out from our main activities of training students and have begun trying to find ways to do something positive for the community. 

Our big project last year was the Underwater River Clean, where, with the assistance of several other clubs as well as KUSU Volunteering, Be A Champion funding and outside agencies, we were able to pull off a great event. But we’re not done yet. Another idea we’ve had going is to run taster sessions for local youth groups etc. In diving circles, we call them “Try Dives”.

Our club runs a Try Dive every time we start a training schedule, usually at the start of each Semester, for our brand new recruits, but obviously it was going to be a little different if we started to teach potentially much younger people. What we needed was a Try Dive where we could get some young people involved but could rely on them to be kind to us (for that you can read behave!).
Getting ready!
So I approached the Commanding Officer at 328 Squadron of the Air Cadets – Kingston’s Squadron, to see if they might be interested. I chose the ATC because I was a Cadet and a member of Staff there many years ago and I figured they might be a good fit. The ATC is an organisation that, while it promotes the Royal Air Force, is also about providing training and leadership experience that will be useful in civilian life. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Air Cadets and this was a chance to put a little back.
The C.O. of the Squadron was keen and we soon organised a day to meet at New Malden leisure centre where the Try Dive would take place. Members of the Sub Aqua Club met up there early on the day so we could prep and talk through what we’d be doing in the pool.  Our Diving Officer Tom was keen for us to teach a couple of basic skills in the water and then have some fun with the Toypedoes provided by the KUSU Volunteering department and some of the pool toys supplied along with the equipment by Aquanauts, our local Dive shop.
I am OK!
The session itself went really well, with us splitting the cadets into small groups and getting all of them into the water at once. I taught the Squadron Adjutant and his son, doing some basic skills like Mask clearing, Reg recovery and DV retrieval. The rest of the session, we played catch with the Toypedoes, swam through hoops and did loops underwater. Both the Cadets and our own club really enjoyed the experience.
Swimming through hoops!
Running the session helped us to learn a lot about how we ran the sessions and how we might need to do it differently next time. I particularly enjoyed seeing the young people getting to try out a sports activity that they wouldn’t normally get the chance to do and seeing how much they enjoyed it. 
Group photo!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Christmas Presents for Local Children's Hospice

Your lovely donated gifts!
We hope you all had a lovely break over the Christmas and New Year period! To celebrate the start of 2013 we thought we’d blog about the very kind gifts Kingston University students and staff donated at the end of last year to Shooting Star CHASE.

Each year KUSU invites students and staff to donate toys and gifts to local charities that need them. This year gifts were donated to Shooting Star CHASE. This charity cares for local families with a child or teenager with a life-limiting condition. They currently help over 600 families living in western London, Surrey and West Sussex. They provide nursing, advice, practical help and emotional support. Their services are available 365 days a year, and families receive their support free of charge, in their own homes and communities and at two children’s hospices.

Thanks to your generosity KUSU had to make three(!) trips to drop presents off at Shooting Star House Children’s Hospice in Hampton. The gifts were used at the hospice, for kids staying over the Christmas period, and by their staff when they visit families at home and were very much appreciated.

Thank you to everyone who donated something! The quality and number of gifts was incredibly high this year and you really helped to make a difference to local families in need.

Jemma Houghton and Alex Britton
KUSU Volunteer Coordinators
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