Fifteen years ago, yes long time ago I know, a group of five souls met-up and created the WET team, which was a group of educators dedicated to informing young Torontonians, especially new immigrant young Torontonians, about being safe in, on and around the water. They toured to schools and preschools, camps and daycares and through skits and fun, spread the water safety word.
Yes, I was both a lifeguard and instructor trainer in my distant past. This
little gig led to a monumental gig overseeing the revision of
Canada’s national water safety program from 1994-1996.
those heady years, I lived simultaneously in Ottawa and Toronto and
toured Canada from coast to coast meeting with recreation
programmers, aquatic center directors, swimming coaches, instructors,
aboriginal community leaders, national organizations for people with
disabilities, scientists working in the field of
hypothermia, the Canadian Coast Guard, and doctors of child
development and educational pedagogy to solicit their feedback and
input into the revision.
goal was to create a learn-to-swim/water safety program that was
inclusive of Canada’s diversity and cutting edge in terms of its
research/technical grounding and scientific base. It was a crazy time
with crazy hours and far too much travel but totally amazing.
of the project involved editing two textbooks on the subject for
National publication that are still in use today. Editing was a
brutal chore with exceptionally tight deadlines driven by the folks
at Times Mirror Professional Publishing. Our lives were ruled by the
looming press date and our production handlers in St. Louis, where TM
was based at the time, kept our small team of Judy; Yvan, our French
translator; Gary, our photographer (who is actually the Aga Khan’s
personal photographer in his spare time!); and I on a brutal
schedule. Fed Ex packages arrived at our office daily and we’d have
the day to make structural and substantive edits before shipping the
galleys back down to St. Louis by 10:30am the next morning. This task
was complicated by geography as Judy was in Toronto, Yvan in
Montreal, myself in Ottawa and Gary in Vancouver … and was long
before online collaborative project management tools.
things were so tight in terms of the production schedule that we flew
to St. Louis and lived a week in a hotel doing nothing but editing …
often well into the wee, wee hours of the morning. Passionate
discussions about translating passages from English to French (and
Quebec French at that), and cutting word count to accommodate layout,
left us exhausted.
Mirror, however, did their best to keep us going and wine and dinned
us every night at St. Louis’ top restaurants. We received
a private tour of the Arch and Eugene Field’s house (who is perhaps
most famous for his childrens’ stories/poems, including: ‘Wynken,
Blynken, and Nod’).
We felt like stars, and even had personalized TM VIP badges when
visiting the corporate offices.
don’t know how an entry about WET Team launched me into all this but there you go.
The WET Team still meets all these years later to celebrate the difference we made to all those Toronto kids back then. Last night was the annual WET Team gathering, which G and I hosted this year.
While Deb and Sindy couldn’t join us, Mama Joan, Diana (and daughter Christia, who wasn’t even born when we all first met), and Coach Vince attended and we had a hoot reminiscing. Bonus, Mama Joan’s birthday just past so we also got to sing at her and have her face the dreaded ‘ring of fire’ birthday candle tradition. She did just fine.
Seems last night was also a learning moment for us all as Coach Vince walked us through the amazing things our digital cameras can do (… and that we, as tecky klutzs, had no idea of).
2) Mama Joan blows out the ring of fire; 3) camera confusion