YOUNGSTERS are learning about the dangers of jumping into rivers this summer with the return of a life-saving water safety campaign.

Assemblies are being delivered to children in schools for a fourth year, as part of the Safe Durham Partnership’s Dying to be Cool initiative.

The campaign, led by Durham County Council, seeks to raise awareness among ten to sixteen year olds of cold water shock, which is the body’s potentially fatal involuntary reaction to sudden immersion in cold water.

Councillor Olwyn Gunn, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “Our hope has always been that children and staff will take away from the assemblies how dangerous jumping into rivers can be.

“If they are moved to telling their family and friends what they have learnt, even better.

“The safety of children and young people is the priority for us all.

“If this way we are stopping people risking their lives and getting into difficulty, the assemblies will have been worthwhile.”

The assemblies involve the council and school staff teaming up with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service representatives and the family of Crook teenager Cameron Gosling, who died from cold water shock four years ago.

Tributes to Cameron Gosling 

In their first three years the assemblies have been delivered to more than 15,000 schoolchildren.

They feature displays of equipment by the fire and rescue service and are being delivered at schools across the county until the summer holidays begin in July.

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, the cabinet member for community safety, said: “We are pleased to once again be teaming up with Cameron’s family and the fire service to deliver these assemblies.

“The death of one young person is one too many but the fact we have not had any water related deaths of children in County Durham since 2016 is testament to the success of Dying to be Cool and the assemblies.

“We know how powerful hearing Cameron’s loved ones talk about what happened to him has been for both pupils and staff in previous years and we are sure it will be exactly the same this summer.”

Fourteen-year-old Cameron, a student at Parkside Academy, jumped into the River Wear at Witton Park, near Bishop Auckland, in July 2015.

The shock of the cold water caused his heart to stop.

Mum honoured for water safety campaign 

Cameron’s mum Fiona and younger brother Cyle have spoken in previous years’ assemblies on his death and its impact on the family and will do so again this summer.

Mrs Gosling said: “Cameron was fit and healthy and a strong swimmer but he jumped into the river without getting his body used to the water temperature once and it killed him.

“We all miss him massively. Even after four years I still find myself expecting him come home for his tea some nights.

“As a family we’re immensely proud that by telling Cameron’s story in the assemblies and through the campaign, he can act as a teacher by raising awareness of cold water shock and hopefully keeping people safe.”