In January 2017, twenty-one members of the Goldfish Swim School team headed to Gales Point, Belize for a service trip. Alex Tyler (owner of Goldfish Swim School – St. Charles and Goldfish Swim School – Glen Ellyn) had visited Gales Point on two previous occasions and he wanted to bring a bigger team back with him this year in order to make a larger impact on the community. This blog post series chronicles the work of the Goldfish team during their time in Belize.
On our third full day in Gales Point, Belize, our team completed construction on their house project. Finishing touches included interior walls, window shutters, and stairs to the front porch.
The rest of our team spent the morning working with the kids at the local school in Gales Point. In preparation for our trip, many Goldfish students from across the United States wrote letters to the kids in Gales Point. Our team was able to share these letters in the classrooms and the students wrote letters back, sharing information about their lives in Gales Point. The Goldfish Team is committed to writing back to the kids in Gales Point. We love new pen pals! Goldfish facilities across the country contributed books, activities and fun prizes for the kids in Gales Point and we had a blast sharing these items with the students.
Our final day of lessons was something to see! A highlight was the new ladder that made it a lot easier for everyone to get in and out of the water. We had instructors in the water working with kids on the skills that they had been practicing during our visit. We loved seeing the real progress that all of the little swimmers were making! Most importantly, it was wonderful to see the kids having fun together in the water and gaining confidence in their water safety and swim skills. We were able to give each swimmer a Goldfish Swim School t-shirt and a “Star Student” ribbon.
By this time, our team had the chance to really get to know many of the kids in Gales Point. We loved seeing them each day and learning more about their lives. We were proud of their progress in the water and we were grateful for our time together. While we certainly feel that we had a positive impact on the people of Gales Point, our team gained so much from the experience as well.
Kristie Leibfritz, General Manager of Goldfish Swim School – Mundelein said, “I have found it extremely difficult to balance my workload in the office and getting in the water with my team and their students. After my trip to Gales Point, I realized how much I missed teaching children. Since my return from Belize I am making more of an effort to get in the water with my teachers to help out wherever is necessary. This has helped me build a stronger bond with my team, and build more personal relationships with the families at Goldfish Mundelein.”
St. Charles instructor Bryan Ocava said, “The trip taught me to be more loving and open minded. The experience really taught me to care. Ever since I got back to St. Charles to teach, I have been loving every moment in my own classes. I came to Belize to teach as a swim teacher, but I ended up learning so much about other people and myself. I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life.”
We are already looking ahead to the 2018 Goldfish Swim School Belize trip and planning ways to continue to have a positive impact on this special community.