MACON, Ga. — In a few weeks, kids will be out on summer break and one big key to keeping them out of trouble is finding positive ways to keep them busy. In Macon-Bibb County, pools play a big part.
Last year, Bibb's Parks and Recreation Department had a tough time keeping all the pools open at the same time. They had a shortage of lifeguards and this year, they're diving into the problem head first.
"Community pools are so important because it gives the kids so many outlets to do so many more things instead of being in the streets," said Te'Andre Faulks.
He was a lifeguard from 2015 to 2020 for Macon-Bibb's pools, then he accepted a job as a county athletics coordinator for Parks and Rec.
He loved being a lifeguard and says he would still do it if he didn't have his current job. He enjoyed being around smiling faces and learning skills that could save lives.
"Even after lifeguarding I still can use CPR, those skills still help you. If I'm at a pool and I see somebody drowning, I can still save somebody even without me being a lifeguard," said Faulk.
The pandemic created a drought for Bibb's lifeguard staffing.
"They either lost their certifications or found other jobs along the way," said Armand Burnett, the assistant director Macon-Bibb Parks and Rec.
It meant they could only open some pools a few days each week last year while they rotated lifeguards around town.
"We had to alternate pools because we did not have enough to cover all the pools at once, so that left lifeguards wondering which pools they were going to be at," said Burnett.
This year, the county's goal is to open all the pools at the same time with a team of lifeguards to pick from.
"Each neighborhood takes pride in their pool. They would want their lifeguard to be there so they can actually attend their pool and know they're safe," said Burnett.
The county raised the pay of the lifeguards from $10 to $14. They are looking to fill 33 spots, and plan to open the pools on Saturday, May 28.
There's also another pool in the line-up for this year. The Booker T. Washington Center pool didn't open last year while it was under renovation, but it's ready to open this year.
You can find available job openings for lifeguards here.