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Love of swimming provides foundation for life-changing work

Guest post by Red Cross volunteer, Caitlin Simpson

As a four-year-old, John Napier splashed around his neighbourhood pool in Grand Prairie during his swimming lessons provided by the Canadian Red Cross. “You could say I was indoctrinated from a very young age,” he jokes. Now, Napier is a Water Safety Master Instructor Trainer with the Canadian Red Cross and has been a volunteer since 1998.

One of Napier’s most eye-opening experiences with the Canadian Red Cross was when he travelled to China on two separate occasions. The first year, he helped train new Instructor Trainers in hopes that they would build on the program. The training took place for one week. After the first week, they watched as the instructors taught migrant children a set of swimming lessons. It was an opportunity they would not have had if it weren’t for the Red Cross Society of China partnering with the Canadian Red Cross.

John (white shirt) and the Red Cross Society of China, Zhoushan Branch delegation.

John Napier, in white shirt, and the Red Cross Society of China, Zhoushan Branch delegation.

“It was amazing watching how our method of instruction has the same impact on people around the globe,” recalls Napier. “The children would high-five us and have the hugest smiles on their faces throughout the whole lesson.”

The second year, Napier and his team co-hosted a conference where other Red Cross Societies from China attended. The purpose was to showcase the work they had done within Zhoushan and Xiamen provinces. Close to 10 provinces attended and asked questions about the program and how to incorporate it within their provinces as they truly began to understand the importance of drowning prevention. 
John and Kevin Paes (Manager, Swimming and Water Safety Training Partner Development, National office)“Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death worldwide,” states Napier. “We have the opportunity to teach swimming and water safety which in turn reduces drownings. Prevention is the key and that is what our program does.”

When Napier is not providing life-changing programs, he enjoys spending time with his family and golden retriever, Kota. They spend time in the mountains or on their acreage building all sorts of things.

Thank you, John, for all you do.

Pictured, left, John Napier with Kevin Paes, Manager, Swimming and Water Safety Training Partner Development, National office, right.


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