Groups teach first-time beachgoers ocean safety

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - For kids who aren't strong swimmers and don't know how to properly swim in the ocean, the water's current can be deadly.

That's why local nonprofits The Arc Project Inc. and Lifeguards Without Borders have joined forces to teach first-time beachgoers ocean safety.

"Just getting them comfortable in the water and getting them familiar with the way the ocean feels and the waves and the currents, and teaching them some skills like their own life safety and even how to save others," said Greg Field, of The ARC Project.

The project's goal is to teach ocean safety and surfing to disadvantaged youth to give them the confidence to enjoy the ocean.

"Many of our students, the population we target are students that have never been to the ocean before or only been out a few times maybe," Field said. "We really want to get kids out here who don't have the opportunity to get out here."

Sixteen-year-old Nikera Thurman is one of them.

"It's really exciting. I've never been here before and I like the weather," Thurman said. "It's not too hot, not too cold."

"The students, their faces will change," Field said. "At the beginning of camp you can tell they're nervous, they almost don't want to be here because it's very uncomfortable for them. By the end of camp, they're all smiles and high fives."

All week the nonprofits have put on one-day learning events for different groups of children. Thursday's group was from the Police Athletic League.

"I think that all parents should put their kids in summer camp because it gives them something to do over the summer and not get into trouble and have fun and be around other kids," Thurman said.

Friday is the last day for this year's learning event, but the nonprofits plan to do it again next year.

To learn more about The ARC Project or Lifeguards Without Borders, go to their Facebook pages.

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