HANAPEPE — Kayana Taniguchi was splashing and having fun with other Keiki Junior and Junior Lifeguards at Salt Pond Beach Park last week.
“My mom said she signed me up to get me out of the house and do something good,” Taniguchi said. “This is really good. I especially like the activities.”
Taniguchi, an eighth-grader, is one of 80 students involved in the program that opened its first week Monday at Salt Pond.
“We’re full up at this site,” said Randy Ortiz, program leader. “We have some spots left in the Junior Lifeguard program at Hanalei which starts Monday, and there are some spots open for the Keiki Junior Lifeguard program in Poipu which runs June 27 through July 1. Otherwise, we’re pretty much full up.”
On Wednesday, the students were visited by the Kauai Fire Department burn trailer which offered instruction and hands-on activities.
“This is my first time experiencing the Junior Lifeguard program,” said eighth-grader Kyra Henderson. “This is really fun, and I like how they push us to do our best.”
The free program is open to Kauai youth; ages 8 to 11 attend the Keiki Junior Lifeguard program, and ages 12 through 17 participate in the Junior Lifeguard program.
“I have been doing Junior Lifeguard since I was 8 years old,” said Kelsey Ortiz, another eighth-grader. “My dad (Randy) forced me to take this. But it’s good because it’s really fun, and I get to come to the beach. This is the first year I’m doing the Junior Lifeguard program.”
Areas of instruction include ocean safety awareness, ocean hazards, personal safety techniques, paddle board, basic swimming, simple rescues and how to activate an emergency plan. Cardio pulmonary resuscitation and first aid are also taught.
Waileia Edwards is in her second year as a Junior Lifeguard. Last year was her first time at the state competition.
“At first, I was nervous,” Edwards said. “But after getting going, it was a lot of fun. We finished with Kauai’s 12th-straight state championship. At first, it was confusing because they said we didn’t win, but by the time we got home, we had won our 12th title. This year, we’re going to Maui and hopefully 13 is a lucky number for us.”
Micah Kamuela Nobriga-Ferris is the newest county lifeguard, being hired just four months ago. He stopped by to watch the exercises, remembering when he was a Junior Lifeguard.
“I was in the Junior Lifeguard program for eight years,” Nobriga-Ferry said. “This was before the Keiki program, and Randy was really pushing me from when I was 11 years old.”
He said a lot of beach problems stem from non-swimmers going snorkeling and getting caught in the current, then getting sucked out to the outer reef at Salt Pond.
“A lot of the things they taught, I get to put to real life,” Nobriga-Ferris said. “I’ve been on duty for four months, and already have four rescues. Two of them, my first, were right here at Salt Pond. The first time I had to rescue someone, I was really nervous because people’s lives were in my hands. But afterwards, I know why we’re here, and it’s a good feeling.”
Makana Duncan, a high school freshman, said she’s been helping with the program for three years because her dad, David Duncan, is one of the Ocean Safety instructors.
“The best part is being at the beach,” she said.
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