Originally appeared in the Northern Virginia Daily April 9, 2013 http://www.nvdaily.com/news/2013/04/4-h-center-to-offer-summer-public-safety-courses.php

By Kim Walter

The 4-H Center in Front Royal is adding new courses this summer with hopes of improving public safety.

In addition to traditional youth summer camp activities, community members are invited to participate in lifeguarding, swimming and first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator classes. All are certified by the American Red Cross.

Swim lessons are offered to youth, adults and even infants during the months of June and July. Lorilei Dreibelbis, the center's pool manager and American Red Cross certified instructor, said the "My Grown Up and Me" class is a good option for parents and infants to learn together.

"Infants learn so much from their parents, whether they realize it or not," she said Tuesday. "If the youngsters can see their parents comfortable in the water, then they will enjoy the experience even more."

Infant CPR is also included in the class. The adult swim lessons are new this summer.

Basic first aid, CPR and AED training is part of all lifeguarding classes, and Dreibelbis said the certification is good for two years.

A separate class will be offered on April 20, which will just focus on the life saving responses. Dreibelbis said another might be added later in the summer if enough interest is shown. Interested individuals must be at least 12 years old to participate.

Another new class this summer is the junior life guarding class, which is offered to those 11 to 14 years old. Dreibelbis said the youth are too young to actually be certified, but that doesn't mean it's too soon to learn.

The 10-week class will equip participants with the knowledge gained from the standard lifeguarding course.

"The idea is that they'll have a head start," she said. "Plus, they'll get the first aid and CPR, so that will help if they get a babysitting job or are just having fun with their friends this summer."

Dreibelbis noted that the area surrounding the 4-H Center is no stranger to water-related activities. That means, though, that community members should be prepared if something were to go wrong.

"Being safe around the water is a community responsibility," she said. "Research shows that so many of the deaths and injuries from water activities can be prevented if people just had the basic intervention skills."

The center is also planning to host a variety of basic water rescue events in August.

Win Iden, the center's program director, recognized the role of the facility in the area.

"We really strive to be a community resource," he said. "The pool here is one thing that is used most, so this summer we've decided to really focus our efforts there."

Dreibelbis agreed, and stressed the positive impact that could come from more local awareness of safety protocols in a life and death situation.

"I've heard so many people say they'd be interested in classes like these," she said. "Well, we listened. We want to prove that we're more than just fun summer camps. We're about public education."

For more information or to register for a class, call the center at 540-635-7171 or go to nova4h.com.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com