YMCA finding new ways to train lifeguards amid national shortage

YMCA builds own lifeguards

YMCA of Southern Interior BC is tackling the shortage of trained lifeguards head-on by creating a new training program.

The team at the YMCA of Southern Interior BC believes youth are the solution to the shortage, so they have introduced a range of initiatives aimed at addressing the lifeguard shortage and ensuring the safety of swimmers.

The initiatives include offering advanced aquatics certification courses throughout the year, collaborating with local partners and funders, and establishing programs in local schools.

“Lifeguarding is an incredibly rewarding job,” explains Cassandra Thomas, YMCA general manager of community programs. “It is also a lot of fun and sets youth up with foundational skills that will translate to any career they choose.”

The high school lifeguard academies are designed to introduce high school students to the world of lifeguarding and provide them with the necessary training and certifications. By partnering with local schools, the YMCA aims to engage youth early on and foster their interest in becoming lifeguards.

Thomas believes part of their success is attributed to their efforts to make it easier for youth to access training.

“Our aim is to remove barriers so that every young person can access lifeguard training, no matter their financial means,” says Thomas.

“With so many options for work the reality is that youth simply aren’t willing to go through the steps to become a certified lifeguard. Some simply can’t afford the financial investment in becoming certified. Our aim is to make it easy and appealing for youth to choose lifeguarding as a job.”

Since it was launched in 2020, the YMCA's summer program has provided fifty young adults with the opportunity to obtain lifeguard certifications at no cost.

“If you know someone between the age of 16-30 who is looking for rewarding work, we’d love to hear from them,” says Thomas. “We have space in our upcoming program. The more lifeguards we train the better off our community will be.”

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