Last month, the Gravenhurst YMCA awarded its first Advanced Aquatics Scholarships to twelve local youth, thanks to the generous support of Muskoka Community Grants. These scholarships will help the winners pursue the Life Saving Society’s Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, or National Life Guard Courses, as well as Swim Instructor Courses.
After great success launching the Advanced Aquatics Scholarship program in other locations across the region, the YMCA opened applications to local youth in Gravenhurst with a passion for swimming, and an interest in further developing these essential skills to serve their community. The local recipients join dozens of other YMCA scholarship winners across the region in training to address a critical shortage of qualified lifeguards and swim instructors.
The pandemic forced many local pools, including the YMCA, to close, which led to children missing out on swimming lessons and fewer certified lifeguards protecting our local waters. As families recover from the effects of the pandemic, they face unexpected economic challenges, which keep them from taking part in life-saving aquatics programs. With the support of Muskoka Community Grants, financial challenges won’t stand in the way of local children and youth learning lifesaving skills.
“This is something I have always wanted to do, but never pursued due to time and money. I feel like I would make a great lifeguard,” said scholarship recipient, Stephanie.
Another scholarship recipient, Om, said, “I hope to learn the skills that I will need in the future to become a lifeguard. Things such as working with a team, communication and life saving techniques. My older brother was a lifeguard at the YMCA, and having talked to him about his job I know what kind of hard work it takes to become a lifeguard, and I’m willing to put in the time to learn these valuable skills.”
Dale Rowe, General Manager of Philanthropy with the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, presented the winners with their awards, and thanked the community for their support. “We are extremely grateful to Muskoka Community Grants for their support of our Y and for responding to this pressing need to provide swimming lessons and advanced aquatics courses here in Gravenhurst. The closures during the pandemic, along with new and increasing financial challenges for families created so many barriers for people to learn these lifesaving skills; together we are helping to close the gap and provide this incredible opportunity for youth.”
Gravenhurst Mayor, Heidi Lorenz, spoke at the awards ceremony: “On behalf of District Council, I want to congratulate the scholarship recipients here this evening for your determination and commitment to your community…. I also want to thank the YMCA for spearheading this program – You have developed a great approach to ensure that everyone has access to your lifeguarding courses. This program is an important investment in our community, as well as the young people who participate. We are proud to have funded these scholarships through the District of Muskoka’s Community Grant Program. Partnerships with agencies like the YMCA, in support of these important projects, succeed in making our communities better and stronger.”
Thanks to the generosity of donors across the region, the YMCA will open another round of scholarship applications in the coming weeks, and continues to offer financial assistance to ensure that everyone can access YMCA programs and services.
To learn more about how to apply for financial assistance, future scholarship opportunities, or how you can support these initiatives visit www.ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca.