Last year Piper Stewart realised she was the only Indigenous child in her swimming club at Griffith, in the New South Wales Riverina, and decided to do something about it, ABC News reports.
“I went home, and I was thinking about why and I realised not as many people have as much money to pay, because swimming lessons are pretty expensive,” she said.
At first, the then 12-year-old wanted to teach Aboriginal children to swim herself but not being qualified, she started fundraising to assist Indigenous families wanting to send their children to swimming lessons.
“We started off with a raffle, selling chocolates, a Go-Fund-Me page and then we went a bit bigger and did a trivia night,” Piper said.
With the help of her mother, Allison Stewart, Piper created Bambigi — a charitable organisation that helps to fund six months of swimming lessons for local Aboriginal children.
Bambigi means ‘to swim’ in the local Indigenous language of Wiradjuri
In the year and a half that Bambigi has been operating, it has helped more than 80 children attend swimming lessons.
Ms Stewart said there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from the community.
“I’m now getting parents send me photos and videos of their children that couldn’t swim before and are now swimming the length of the pool,” Ms Stewart said.
“Early on in the year, we had an Indigenous student that wasn’t a swimmer, he has now made it to state [level] for the school swimming carnivals.”
In January, the New South Wales Government awarded Bambigi with a $21,600 grant.
Data from Royal Lifesaving Australia shows Indigenous people are four times more likely to die from drowning than non-Indigenous people.