The smiles on the faces of young kids went from cheek to cheek when they earned that new Red Cross swim badge to complete their colourful collection will soon be no more.
Now, after more than 75 years — and 40 million participants — the Canadian Red Cross swimming and lifeguarding programs are on their last lap.
The organization is now encouraging its partners — including those in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody — to transition its swim and lifeguarding initiatives to those provided by the Lifesaving Society Canada by December 2022.
In a release, Canadian Red Cross said the decision was made to bring more attention to the growing demand for humanitarian efforts in light of recent crises.
Those the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid harm reduction, disaster response and caregiving for seniors.
"We are enormously proud of what we have accomplished in providing water safety training and we are truly grateful to entire generations of staff and volunteers who dedicated themselves to creating a program of the highest standard," said Canadian Red Cross CEO Conrad Sauvé on Jan. 12.
"We continue to believe in the importance of water safety training, but no longer saw that we offered unique expertise in that area. We also believe the relative humanitarian need for water safety training has been surpassed by demands in other areas in which we are well positioned to make a difference."
"We hope one benefit of a single national water safety training entity will be an easier entry for young Canadians to seize the great leadership and development opportunity in becoming an aquatic instructor, trainer or lifeguard," added Lifesaving Society Canada CEO Bobby White.
He said he appreciates the confidence Red Cross has in the transition between the two groups by recognizing there are several residents, young and old, looking to get trained in the pool.
First Nation communities will be the exception, where regular training is set to continue as part of the Red Cross' Indigenous Peoples Framework.
Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam pools are set to continue to offer the current Red Cross swimming and lifeguarding programs until the transition is complete.
Port Moody pools also offer Red Cross swimming lessons, but it's facilities are only open in the summer.