Tuesday, December 06, 2016 - 6:15 PM

Young Swimmer Receives Rescuer Award

Mayor O'Keefe and Gabrielle MacDonald sitting at the Mayors desk in council chambers

Recently 10 year-old Gabrielle MacDonald of St. John’s was presented with a Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Award for saving her brother from drowning this past summer.

The Mayor met with Gabrielle prior to her receiving the award to commend her for her quick response and selfless act. “Your actions are a great example to others and hopefully will inspire many more young people to pursue lifeguarding certification,” said Mayor O’Keefe. “You are indeed an outstanding citizen!”

Gabrielle learned to swim at the H.G.R. Mews Community Centre. Jaime Wilson, one of Gabrielle’s swim instructors, says she always knew Gabrielle was a special child. “I taught Gabrielle when she was eight years-old and even then she had a maturity about her and a great dedication and determination to learn to swim,” says Jaime. “If I taught her something she couldn’t accomplish in that lesson, she would come to a public swim and practice it before our next session, so it didn’t surprise me she completed all ten of the Red Cross swim levels in just two years, which is an amazing accomplishment.“

Gabrielle’s mother Jackie thanked the City’s aquatics staff for keeping her family together. “Thank you for giving Gabrielle A+ training; her courage and bravery in saving her brother is a credit to all the amazing instructors who taught her.” Gabrielle’s aunt Susan, who regularly brought Gabrielle to her lessons at the Mews Centre, credits the lifeguards and instructors of the Red Cross program for a fantastic learning atmosphere.

The City of St. John’s is training assistant lifeguards (ages 12+), lifeguards and swim instructors (both for ages 15+) for half price until June 2017. To learn more about or to register for these Red Cross Swim courses visit RECconnect.

Starting in January 2017, a Junior Aquatic Club is being offered by the City for ages 10 to 16. It’s a new initiative to help young swimmers, like Gabrielle, bridge the gap between completing Red Cross swimming lessons and lifeguard certification. Register for the club and have fun in a team environment while also learning rescue skills, first aid and CPR.