Three hundred and sixty-seven children from Manitoba, including the north, will receive the opportunity to partake in a free online babysitting course by the Aqua Essence Swim Academy in Winnipeg until March 21.
Youths aged 11 to 15 can learn to prevent and respond to emergencies, meet the needs of babies and toddlers, as well as, a promote themselves as babysitters.
Approximately three dozen youths from Thompson and Flin Flon have registered to participate in this online course.
“The course is taught by one of our certified instructors through Zoom. It is pretty amazing, we are very excited to be able to offer this program to encourage Manitobans to stay home,” said Rishona Hyman, owner and instructor at the Aqua Essence Swim Academy on Monday.
“In the short time that it has been offered, 85% of our slots have already been occupied. Only 15% of our spaces are still available. People can register at our website; any classes with openings are listed, and if they don’t see a class, it means that we are sold out.”
Since last April, the swimming academy has offered virtual babysitting courses to youths across Canada.
Courses are usually priced at $65 plus tax for individuals and $55 per registrant for school groups.
This free program was only made possible due to the $25,000 funding from the province’s Safe at Home Manitoba grant.
Participants will receive a diaper for the program and a certificate, a first aid kit, and a copy of the Babysitting Manual once they have completed the course.
The course runs for eight hours in total with 15 participants per class. Youths will be able to learn about babysitting through different methods such as skits, role-playing, group work, class discussions and participation.
“We think of the babysitting course as the first step in leadership training. They learn how to be independent and to think on their feet. They also learn about different stages of development, appropriate foods, first aid, and fire safety,” said Hyman.
“Other teachings also include toilet training, allergies, choking, poisoning, feeding, dressing, what appropriate items to bring, what questions to ask when babysitting and so on.”
Successful participants can also reach out to the academy again with questions or continue to seek advice even after the program is over. The swimming academy is committed to helping all of their past and present students with anything they might need in regards to babysitting.
Hyman noted that it has been quite challenging to spread the word about the program to northern communities.
“We were on the Thompson Today and we saw a lot of people registered as a result of that but that is about the extent of our reach at the moment,” said Hyman.
“I want to encourage youths from northern Manitobans to take this course. It is a nice change to be able to take something outside of school, to meet kids you don’t normally see and to make some new friends.”
Hyman said that so far, the participants have loved meeting other youths from all over Manitoba.
“Some of them even exchange phone numbers or Instagram accounts. They often do not want to say goodbye at the end of the Zoom call or ask us whether there are other courses they can take. The feedback has been very positive,” she said.
Interested youths can register for this free online course at https://aquaessence.ca/red-cross-courses-for-youth/.
Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun