Sarah Manto works with a young person teaching swimming safety as part of her work toward her Girl Scouts Gold Award.

One day recently, I read the HomeFront Matters Newsletter that came to my house in the mail. HomeFront is the Lawrence-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to end homelessness in Central New Jersey by harnessing the caring, resources and expertise of the community.

At any given time, HomeFront is helping to provide emergency and transitional housing to hundreds of people from our area. In one of the articles in the newsletter, I read that their children often went to pools and beaches with little to no swim experience.

I have loved swimming since I was three years old. I have been on the Barracuda and Bluefish community swim teams for several years, which has only increased my passion for the sport.

I became a lifeguard three years ago at the Community Park Pool in Princeton, where I learned the importance of water safety. I have also been a Girl Scout for over 10 years, and when it was time for me to choose my Gold Award project, I immediately thought of developing a water-safety awareness program.

When I saw the article in the newsletter, I got the idea to use all of my experience and develop a swim program for the underserved children who may never get the opportunity to learn these valuable skills. I created a Swim Instruction Program Binder and a Water Safety Awareness Brochure.

Girl Scouts Gold Award winner Sarah Manto teaching children swimming and water safety.

The Swim Instruction Binder includes different teaching techniques depending on the child’s swimming ability. For example, a child who might be afraid of the water could practice submerging their face, and blowing bubbles to get accustomed to being underwater.

Learning to tread water and independently float on their front and back, and learning kicking will prepare the children for water emergencies.

My Water Safety Awareness brochure includes a detailed step-by-step approach on how to be safe around pools, oceans, and lakes. By teaching children the basics of swimming and discussing the importance of water safety around open waters, I feel confident that we can give them valuable skills that could save their lives.

It can also make a positive contribution to the HomeFront organization, as well as our community. Chris Marchetti, who is the director of children’s programming for HomeFront, has helped me kick off this project and make it a great success.

A special thank you to Alphagraphics, Mercer County, New Jersey for their printing donation and helping me produce an amazing Water Safety and Awareness Brochure.

Sarah Manto lives in Montgomery.