Thanks to an initiative between the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex and the Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Employment Centre there are four more youth in the community who are now trained lifeguards.
The program that trains youth from basic Red Cross Standard First Aid all the way through to the National Lifeguard Service course — the highest accreditation for lifeguards — began in April 2011 with the students taking their written and practical exams last week.
Nancy Feeley, CMRC aquatic co-ordinator, praised the four students who finished the comprehensive courses, noting in 11 weeks of four-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week training they completed what it takes most youth four years.
“It’s amazing. They’ve done awesome work. Everybody was here everyday,” she said.
Six youth started the courses with four — Sheldon Squalian, Tayler Roorda, Jenna Rich and Wolf Peters — completing.
Each student said they saw the course offering as a good opportunity and saw their training as being relevant to their futures.
“I like the job. You meet different people in a good environment,” Squalian said, adding he’s looking forward to getting a job with his qualifications and extending his training to include a water safety instructors course that would allow him to teach swimming lessons.
Roorda spoke of the challenges the courses presented and expressed hope that she would soon be able to find a job that utilized her training.
“There were lots of challenging parts,” she said. “Getting your fitness up and being able to do the demanding things.”
Some of those challenges included the distance swims and carrying a 20-pound brick in the pool.
The eggbeater (a method of holding oneself stationary while vertical in the water) was one of Rich’s challenges, as was having the group work as a team.
“We’re good at it now,” she said. “It’s fun to get back into swimming and learn how to do all this stuff.”
Rich says she would like to go on and teach swimming lessons.
Peters joined the course because he said he had heard lifeguarding was a good job with good pay.
“It was long, fun and hard,” he said of the experience. “I want to work here (CMRC) after we’re done.”