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​Water world: making swimming safe for everyone

Canadian Red Cross volunteer Leslie White has spent most of her life ensuring the safety of those around water.

Leslie White, a very busy Canadian Red Cross volunteerNow as a City of St. John’s, Facilities Supervisor with the Department of Community Services in Newfoundland, her team under the supervision of Carla Squires (Facilities Manager) oversees four aquatic centres, recreation facilities and more than 100 staff.  Leslie volunteers with the Red Cross as a lifeguard instructor trainer, master instructor trainer for swimming and water safety, and first aid instructor trainer as well as a member of the Canadian Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Technical Advisory Group, and the Training Partner Customer Advisory Board.

“Supervising these facilities, training lifeguards and volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross keeps me busy,” laughed Leslie, also a mother of two. “One thing I was involved with for a long time was getting data from the coroner’s office on drowning statistics and that, to me, is always my motivation – prevention of drowning is so important to me. So many drowning occurrences are preventable so educating and training the public to try and make a difference is imperative. I was always comfortable in the water and my mom has always been terrified so it was a personal thing that I wanted to show her it was fun and safe to be active in the water, with preventative measures. This is even more important to me now as a mom myself!”

Leslie first got involved with the aquatics world when she was a teenager and started as a lifeguard at a local community pool, moving on to become an instructor and Head Lifeguard. 

“I’ve always worked with the City of St. John in aquatics in some shape or form,” said Leslie. “My first job was at Bowring Park Swimming Pool, and I was approached by one of the supervisors during my third or fourth summer to become a first aid instructor. I did the course, loved it and started teaching first aid. I had taken my water safety instructor course and my lifeguarding courses and was asked by the Red Cross supervisor to do water safety outreach in the community.”

Taking on multiple aquatic opportunities over the years to keep her on her toes professionally as well as personally, Leslie even participated in creating the Red Cross lifeguard course.

“I was on the original lifeguard participation committee when Red Cross decided to create its current lifeguard course in 2008,” she noted. “So I’ve been involved since the beginning and it’s so great to see the evolution over the past 10 years.”

Find out more about water safety and find a course near you!
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