Okanagan Indian Band kids buoyed by lifejacket donation

Vernon resident doubles donation to keep kids safe

Okanagan Indian Band kids recently enjoyed a fun, safe day on the lake thanks to the donation of lifejackets for the children. (Vernon Recreation Services photo)

Okanagan Indian Band kids recently enjoyed a fun, safe day on the lake thanks to the donation of lifejackets for the children. (Vernon Recreation Services photo)

A local resident and community effort made a great splash to ensure a group of kids could enjoy the water safely.

Recently, children from the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) — nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓áyaʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət Cultural Immersion School and children from the OKIB daycare, called snc’c’amala?tn received a donation of new lifejackets that were used while enjoying a day at the beach.

The idea of the donation was initiated by Tina Naveri, a lifeguard at the Vernon Aquatic Centre who recently started working at the cultural immersion school.

Naveri knew the school was planning a beach day and she wanted to make sure all of the children had their own lifejackets.

She talked to her manager to see if something could be done to help. Fortunately, a generous citizen had recently made a donation to the recreation centre and asked that it be used to help someone in need.

City of Vernon Recreation Services staff got in touch with the donor and got permission to use the funds to buy lifejackets, aquatics manager Gary Lefebvre said.

“The donor said they liked the idea so much, they decided to double the initial donation,” Lefebvre said. “When they heard the story, some recreation staff members also pitched in some money and then we talked to the local Canadian Tire store. The store graciously helped get all the lifejackets we needed at a discounted cost, and they were delivered in time for the beach day.

“It was an amazing outpouring of care across the community and we are so glad we could be part of it.”

Okanagan Indian Band staff said the donation of the child-sized lifejackets to the daycare was truly appreciated.

Many OKIB members grow up on the shores of Okanagan Lake where they learn to canoe, swim, fish and boat on the lake, so the additional lifejackets will allow expanded opportunities for the children on the water.

July 18-24 was National Drowning Prevention Week and recently, the United Nations declared July 25 to be World Drowning Prevention Day, stating, “anyone can drown, but no one should.”

An estimated 236,000 people drown every year, according to the World Health Organization.

To register for Greater Vernon Recreation Services’ lifesaving courses or swimming lessons, visit gvrec.ca.

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