The Alberta and Northwest Territories branch of the Lifesaving Society will be in Hay River on July 26 for the NWT Water Smart program.
“Last year, we had 73 participants,” said Heather Tybring, the aquatic supervisor at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre. “It was a big success. Hopefully, we’ll have even more this year.”
The program, offered for free by the Lifesaving Society, has been run in communities across the NWT for several years. Individuals of all ages and skill levels are invited to attend and participate in activities designed to instil safe practices in and around the water.
Water safety is in the forefront of people’s minds in light of the drowning of a seven-year-old boy at Long Lake Beach in Yellowknife on June 27.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has contracted the Canadian Lifesaving Society to conduct audits of beach use in both Fred Henne Territorial Park and Hay River Territorial Park. Yellowknife’s audit was set to begin on July 15 and Hay River’s is to follow. The reviews will cover such areas as the use of lifeguards, beach size and access, park usage, and supervision.
While the Water Smart program will be offered in the pool at the recreation centre, Tybring said the program covers all kinds of water safety topics, including open water and beach use, as well as what to do in case of falling through ice in the winter.
“This is a chance to learn how to be water-safe and create community awareness,” she said, adding that in previous years the program has draw participants from Fort Resolution, Enterprise, Jean Marie River and Kakisa, as well as Hay River.
The pool also runs programs throughout the year that provide basic swimming instruction to elementary school students from surrounding communities. Tybring said this year students at Hay River schools will also be invited to attend those classes.
She also said there has been a steady increase in pool use this year, adding she has had to seek out extra staff and work hard to make sure the appropriate number of staff is always on duty.
“It’s great to see the pool being used by the community like this,” she said.
Tybring encouraged all community members to attend the Lifesaving Society’s NWT Water Smart program beginning at 1 pm. on July 26.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn about the environment we live in,” she said. “We live near a large body of water and it’s good to know how to behave safely around it.”
— Sarah Ladik