Youth learn lifesaving skills in Junior Lifeguard program
LAHAINA – Ryan Cabrera is simply a man that loves caring for kids. While raising two daughters with his wife, Audrey, along with working in a career as first a Lahaina Aquatic Center lifeguard and more recently as a Maui County Ocean Safety officer, he approaches his workday with the same passion as dad at home with the girls tucked up next to him on the couch of their Lahaina home.
That incentive to nurture youngsters moved into a higher plane when Cabrera was selected to lead the 2017 County of Maui Junior Lifeguard program here on the West Side. This ongoing program provides teenagers a free curriculum that includes professional lifeguard training, tower safety, surveillance and recognition training, injury prevention, emergency action plans, ocean rescue skills, preventative care and victim assessment, breathing emergencies, cardiac emergencies, first aid and caring for head, neck and spinal injuries.
There are three scheduled sessions each summer with participants receiving instruction in the aforementioned areas along with strenuous physical beach training that includes swimming, running, paddling and calisthenics. The three sessions, held at Canoe Beach and Fleming Beach, began in mid-June and ran through the third week of July, when the Maui County program held a district competition.
The event included Junior Lifeguard standouts from North Shore, Kihei, and Lahaina side programs. Those who excelled advanced to the state competition held on Oahu where the Kauai Junior Lifeguard team dominated the event, but West Side representatives Yuna Lee, Maison Alexander, Noah Schwartzlow and Maximus McKay all shined on for Lahaina.
The list of participants for the 2017 summer sessions included Makenzie Alexander, Maison Alexander, Brogan Mitchell, Hailey Killett, Antonio Paulino, Isaiah Bell, Kasey Toulze, Makoa Akana, Koa Arnold, Asa Howard, Ensen Hurdman, Noah Schwartzlow, Kai Claydon, Lexi Anderson, Maximus McKay, Aidan Haidl, Yuna Lee, Slater Fleck, Marisa Lisk, Olivia Bozich, Taylor Henke, Camden Cole Fugate, Timothy Heile, Tepua Ho, Liam Prestage, Hailey Bogar, Ethan Fisher, Asa Howard, George Compton, Taj Labore, Mia Merrill, Cameron Burns, Dennis Blevins, Zoe Gonzales, Keira Prestage, Rhiannon Gannon and Kaile Vasquez.
In the end, Cabrera’s ocean safety eyes recognized the value of the Junior Lifeguard program.
“This was definitely a good experience for me, and the opportunity to teach the kids to recognize beach safety issues is so important, especially in places where there aren’t lifeguards. It just adds to the amount of aid there is on the beaches to keep people safe.”
The softspoken Cabrera had high praise for program Director Kekai Brown, as well as for the parents of the kids that took part.
“She (Brown) did everything in putting the program together. Her leadership will help bring in new recruits. And my thank you goes out to all the parents who supported the kids every day,” he said.
Upon their return to Maui, one Lahaina participant’s mom returned the compliment: “That Ryan, he’s just awesome. What a caring mentor he is for them!”