Wednesday, August 2, 2017
St. John the Baptist Parish – For the fifth consecutive year, the St. John Parish Recreation Department has offered the Ashley Kelly Swim Program to over 200 children and adults. Since the program’s inception in 2012, more than 500 residents have participated in life-saving swimming lessons and safety training in and around swimming pools and other bodies of water.
This could not be possible without devoted swim instructors, including St. John’s own lifeguards. The young men and women that spend each summer monitoring Parish pools have no easy task. They are responsible for large numbers of pool goers with high energy levels from recreational and faith-based camps, field trips, and mere leisure. They also mold, mentor and teach pool goers how to swim and mainly to never give up.
“The need is in this community and it is rewarding being able to give back,” said Akeem Burl, 10 year lifeguard and swim instructor. “It just takes one second for something to happen and for that preparation is key.” His brother Abdul Burl– a 15 plus year lifeguard and also swim instructor– added, “This program wasn’t available when I was a child, and it is an honor to help and teach children with an opportunity that I never had.” “They really enjoy being able to swim without fear.”
The program has immeasurable affects including the return of familiar faces. Gregory Rosary, a 15-year-old first-year lifeguard, first received swimming lessons through the program at ages 13 and 14. Now he is offering his time teaching others. “When I learned how to swim, I knew I couldn’t stop there. I knew I had to teach others and teach my parents and family. I knew I needed to keep learning and be able to save my family if I needed to.” Lifeguards Tye Phillips, Chardea Berthelot, Neesa Ursua, Madison Stewart and Kendall Martin also devote their time each summer.
Parish President Robottom’s Administration and Recreation Department initiated the program with State Representative Randal Gaines’ office. “If one life is saved as a result of this program, it is a success,” said Parish President Robottom. “We look forward to continuing to make the program larger each year and I want to thank the Recreational staff and all lifeguards, volunteers and instructors for their time and efforts.”
Although the swimming program is closed for this season, Water Aerobics will continue through the end of September. These classes are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Alex Roland Reese Swimming Pool at REGALA Park from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. At the Castle Drive Pool in Edgard, classes are offered on Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m.