The Ashland Optimist Club pool started a new program this summer to teach leadership, water safety and basic lifeguarding skills to students, named the Junior Lifeguard Volunteer Program.

This summer’s Junior Lifeguard class includes, from left: Reece Baker, Mya Zagorac, Kayln Shaw and Cade Crowell.

Jennifer Zagorac, a pool board member and head of the program, initially came up with the idea after her daughter, Mya, took part in a similar experience in Jefferson City. Zagorac wanted something closer to home for teenagers to get involved in. Previous and current lifeguards provided positive feedback when asked about the potential opportunity.

Created for 12 to 14-year-olds, the junior lifeguard program allows a kid to find out if lifeguarding could be a future job without being certified. Entirely voluntary, junior guards assist in daily operations at the pool, such as cleaning bathrooms and adding chemicals, while learning lifeguarding techniques. They also learn valuable lessons about working with the public and being leaders.

The goal, Zagorac said, is to have them fully certified when they are finished with the program. The state of Missouri requires certified lifeguards be at least 15. However, junior lifeguards will receive certification from the StarGuard Junior Lifeguard Training Program.

~ Read more in today’s Journal ~

By Briley Eilers