"We're rolling, we're rolling". That's how Ralph Goto describes the Junior Lifeguard program, in its second session of the summer. Not long ago, it was in danger of going under. The City and County of Honolulu cut funding for the popular program. However, Goto spearheaded a trio of local nonprofit organizations that stepped in and rescued it.
"Some organizations really stepped up to the plate, and realized the importance of the junior guards" said Goto.
Those firms, The Hawaii Lifeguard Association, Na Kama Kai, and Kama Aina Kids are running the program together.
"They're learning important life saving skills, survival skills, what to do in an emergency if they're the only people around" Goto said, describing the curriculum.
However, the lessons learned go beyond the skills acquired.
"[They learn a] healthy lifestyle, respect for the ocean, and watching out for your fellow beachgoer and neighbor" said Shannon Clancy Tuinei, once a junior guard now a City and County lifeguard and instructor at the Kailua session.
15-year old Kendall Holmstrem, who is participating for the first time, added "we've learned so much about how to help people and what we're doing. And also get kind of a feel for what the lifeguards do, I can appreciate more of what they do".
Holmstrem has also gained a healthy dose of perspective in addition to her newly acquired skills.
"Kids might take some school to learn math or other things but I feel like where I'm going to spend most of my time is where I should really help people the most. So I feel like throughout my whole life I'm going to be able to help people if anything happens because I'll have known all these skills".