The Pop Harvey Aquatics Association held an event Thursday to honor young people who chose to be trained as lifeguards in this years Red Cross Learn to Swim program in Parker.
Program organizer Buni Hooper said the 4-week program, which teaches children to swim and emphasizes safety, may be extended to 6 weeks this time, if the funding allows. Lifeguards start as junior lifeguards at 12 years old and are paid between $2 and $4 per hour to assist with the kids in the program, with some senior lifeguards continuing as adults.
This year there are 95 children enrolled to learn to swim, with 32 lifeguards on duty.
Parker’s status as a waterside community with a major river, lake, canals and pools in its vicinity makes water safety and teaching kids how to swim very important, said Bill Risen, who retired from a Southern California police department after a lifelong career as an officer. Risen said that just last weekend there was a near drowning when a child was swept away by strong currents near Big River, CA. He added that the child would not have survived had it not been for young people who knew what to do, saying that the potential first responders in the Pop Harvey Aquatics program would be playing an important role.
Many of the adults present had been involved in the program for years and even decades, many of them with Hooper. One lady said she had been a lifeguard most of her life and had saved 8 people, 3 from pools and 5 out of lakes.