Janice Parker is generous, selfless, and a dedicated community member of Sayulita who has worked incredibly hard in order to get trained lifeguards and lifeguard towers on our beaches of Sayulita. Thanks to her devotion and tenacity, the safety of swimmers and surfers on our beaches has improved tremendously. I asked Janice to tell me about how she became involved in this project.
Janice, where are you originally from? When did you move to Sayulita, and why?
We live in Vancouver B.C. and spend our winters in Sayulita. We first came to Sayulita in December of 2010. We were originally going to check out Los Ayalas at the recommendation of a friend, but Sayulita came up in conversations with others, so we decided to stop in and check it out. We had breakfast at El Break and decided Sayulita was the place for us!
What do you love the most about living here?
We love the sense of community here in Sayulita. We have made many friends in here; there is always something going on that brings everyone together.
What was our beach safety like, in your opinion, before the lifeguard towers were installed?
Beach safety has grown leaps and bounds over the past eight years. Up until five years ago, we had no lifeguards at any of the beaches in Sayulita. The tower installed on the Northside beach in Sayulita this past season has given the lifeguards a much better vantage point to watch from.
How, why, and when did you first get the idea for creating the lifeguard towers and getting involved in creating the lifeguard training programs?
This entire program started as a joint venture between Pro-Sayulita and Firefighters Crossing Borders. I first became involved in this project as a result of going to a GPS meeting in 2012, where I asked what had happened to the promise of having lifeguards on the beach. Jack Jones, now President of Pro-Sayulita, challenged me to figure it out! So, I met with Brian Singleton, who is the Regional Representative for FFCB. His group had started a volunteer training program in 2010 as a result of the drowning of Zack Chambers, a member of FFCB who drowned on the Northside beach in May of 2010. In 2012, Proteccion Civil asked us to provide rescue boards for each of the three beaches in Sayulita. We raised the money for this at the GPS Fiesta that season. By doing that, we were promised lifeguards for each beach. Proteccion Civil then erected lifeguard towers at the main beach in Sayulita, and on the Northside beach of Sayulita. Unfortunately, the tower on the Northside washed out to sea during the storm season in 2015. So, in December of 2016, I was approached by an anonymous donor, and the process of designing and building the new tower began. Cyd Viator is the man who designed and built the tower; he is the rock star of this project!
Besides the GPS Fiesta, how did you help raise the funds to complete this project?
We were given two very hefty donations in early 2017. With this and through fundraisers and T-shirt sales, we were able to complete two more towers. We will soon start a campaign so that we will ultimately have four total towers on the beaches.
What were the trainings for the lifeguards like? How did you ensure the lifeguards would be prepared and certified?
The paid lifeguards went through a week long training program. It was a very rigorous training, starting at 8 am every day and ending at 5 pm. The volunteer training is a two day program that covers important lessons on water safety, rescue techniques, CPR and fitness training. Both training programs are conducted by Internationally Certified Instructors from Proteccion Civil.
How has having the lifeguard towers and trained lifeguards impacted the safety and quality of our beaches here in Sayulita?
Our volunteer lifeguards cover the beaches when the paid lifeguards are not there. The volunteer program has been very successful. Rescues are made by volunteers on a very regular basis. As a result of the volunteer program working in tandem with the paid lifeguards, we have not had a single drowning in Sayulita for three years.
How can others help?
I am working on a Go Fund Me page to raise the last $5,500 USD we need for our final tower. Also, we are working on a Sayulita Surf Rescue calendar as an additional promotional item. A preview of that will be featured on the GFM page.
It is clear that Janice’s work, along with the help of numerous other community members, has made a dramatic impact on the safety of our beaches. Thanks to Janice’s efforts, Sayulita is even more so a place where we can swim, surf, paddle, and play all while knowing that we are safe. Thank you to Janice and everyone whose efforts have helped this project come to fruition.
Written by Aanya Sheik-Taheri