(NewsNation) — June 21 marks the first day of summer — the perfect season to cool off in the water, but a nationwide lifeguard shortage is forcing many families to make alternate plans.
According to the American Lifeguard Association, the issue is affecting about a third of the country’s public pools — some are even staying closed for good or opening with limited hours.
So, what’s to blame?
First, it was the pandemic when lifeguard certification classes were canceled. That’s when lifeguards found new and in some cases higher-paying jobs.
But that’s not the case for Robin Borlandoe. She was a lifeguard when she was 16. Now she’s a 70-year-old Philadelphia grandmother coming out of retirement to help with the lifeguard shortage.
She said pools are important for cities across the nation so children have somewhere to go during the summer.
“Philadelphia and most cities because of what’s happening in these cities, these kids have nowhere to go to, especially in those areas where the pools are not going to be opening. So because of the death rate, the gun violence and just to have something to do,” Borlandoe explained.
There are 16 lifeguards over the age of 60 in Philadelphia, and Borlandoe said no matter how old you are, it’s not too late to make a difference.
“What is 70? Is the new, what 40 or 50? So if they think of it like that, then they can come on out. Do something also for your community instead of just sitting. Some people like retirement; some people don’t. They want something to do and it’s a great health benefit. It just moves your body,” Borlandoe said.