To begin, I want to thank you for being here because at some point, something peaked your interest or you're here to contribute in some way. So either way, thank you for taking the time to make your way here.
I've been in aquatics pretty much my entire life. After I learned how to swim, I learned how to save lives and then I learned how to teach people to save their lives in the water. I am so thankful that my parents kept pushing me back into the water (literally) every time I tried to climb out because I definitely would not be where I am today if it weren't for them.
I'm not going to lie, I had no intention of staying a lifeguard for as long as I did (11 years). It seemed like a great job when I was in grade 12 and it grew on me as the years passed by. What really kept me going were the people I was fortunate to connect with while teaching. In the short limited time we had together, bringing someone who was so afraid of the water to watching them jump into the deep end was something you couldn't take away. The world in the water is a magical place and I don't know what I'd do without it.
It's not the same for everyone though, not everyone is as lucky as I was. Whether it was because they never got a chance to learn how to swim or something traumatic happened when they were young, a lot of people out there have never experienced the joy of swimming. I want to change that. This is exactly why my company Propel exists and I couldn't be more proud of what we're doing. Helping grow Propel made me realize that my life mission is to save the world from drowning by teaching everyone how to swim, one person at a time. Drowning is certainly preventable yet it happens all over the world more times than anyone of us would like to know.
A community that suffers from water-related tragedies is the autism community. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children and adults with autism and 1 in 68 people are diagnosed. Did you know that there are over 11,000 families living with autism in BC alone? A few years ago when I was still a lifeguard, I had to perform CPR on a young woman who had ASD. Thankfully, we were able to revive her and she's completely recovered. I don't know what I would have done if she didn't make it. The scary part? She had a working aid with her. That's the thing - drownings are preventable but we aren't doing enough to successfully prepare people with water education and safety. I would like to work together to end this.
For the month of December, I am raising money for the Canucks Autism Network, more specifically their swim program. If you have a few dollars to spare, I would love for you to donate to my fundraising campaign. If you are even more brave, I challenge you to join me for a pre-polar bear swim on December 17th at Kits Beach. I'm pretty sure I'll be the only person doing the swim but I'm okay with that.
Video filmed and edited by Chris Cho.