Letter for Monday, June 17, 2019

Junior Lifeguard Program, ocean safety team stand out

Everyone knows that Kauai has phenomenal water men and women — many of whom hold multiple world titles in wahine and kane surfing, body boarding, knee boarding, tandem surfing and big-wave riding.

Unfortunately, we also know that not everyone respects our particularly gnarly waters, and to combat a shocking drowning rate we have many local organizations to thank (i.e. Rotary, Surfrider and the Kauai Visitors Bureau) for raising awareness and providing yellow rescue tubes along the beaches.

It’s been a team effort to change a pattern of frequent ocean mortalities, but particular mention must be made of the exemplary Kauai Junior Lifeguard Program and offer kudos to the Kauai water safety team for their professionalism, fitness and aloha in implementing this annual program.

This year, under the able leadership of Tyrus Siale, the county is offering two rounds of week-long training at Salt Pond, Hanalei and Kalapaki — with classes for both the juniors (age 12 to 17) and the innovative Keiki Junior Lifeguard Program for ages 8-11.

Instruction includes CPR, 100-yard runs, swims and paddles, as well as character- and confidence-building for Kauai youth. With 100 kids per class, that’s a lot to manage for anyone, but they do it with humor and consistency, drawing upon their ingrained ability to adapt to constantly-changing conditions and deal with a wide variety of people. To watch a life safety team that can and does save lives is one thing, but to witness them teach the next generation is something else indeed.

Judy Lenthall, Lawai

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