In 2016, T-SAR set up five Life Jacket Loaner Booths to help further water safety, by giving boaters the chance to borrow proper life-jackets, while using the opportunity to get our water safety message heard. We had three booths at the Toronto Waterfront Festival and two over two weekends at the Ashbridge's Bay Boat Launch.
This was our first year with the Loaner program, and we learned a lot — especially about how to engage with more members of the general public. We took new approaches in the way we loaned jackets.
Our volunteers offered free properly-sized "loaner" life jackets to all boaters heading out for a day on the water. While we might not have actually loaned that many life jackets, we did loan several, and we seem to have got many of them pulled out of on-board storage and worn by boaters. We really do count that as a success!
At the Toronto Waterfront Festival, Kathryn Langley Hope, Miles Smit, Angela Tai and Christine Rodway were able to spread the good word on water safety to a lot of people who were walking about. They also learned that there is a market for life-jackets for younger-ages, particularly for infants. Kathryn's missionary zeal on water-safety was particularly commendable. By loaning life jackets for the summer, children were safer at the cottage, at the beach or on boating holidays. We are also pleased to point out that all of the life-jackets we loaned for the summer have been returned.
At the Marinas, however, foot-traffic is much diminished and people are in a hurry to get out on the lake, or to make it back home in time for supper. We handed out jackets, but didn't get to talk all that much.
A lot of T-SAR volunteers and board members put a lot of work on spreading the good word on water-safety... and on T-SAR. There may be more enjoyable ways to spend one's weekend in summer, but our fantastic team generated some great karma volunteering their time for the cause. Kudos to Glenn Osmond, Isaac Cumbo, Luis D'Agosto, Petr Jano and Ivan Simokovic, and also to Alan Banks
As far as 2017 is concerned, our course for the Life Jacket Loaner program is clear... now if we can just get a few ideas of good places to be doing more of that work The Boat Show? the Artisans' Market? Opportunities beckon...
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