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Students from the Toa o’le Tai (Ocean Heroes) program, recently visited Tisa’s Barefoot Bar and spoke with ‘Candyman’ (bottom row left) of Tisa’s. He talked to the students about how he had to save some swimmers from nearly drowning in the waters around the area, and what to do when caught up in a ‘Rip Tide’.

One of the most important elements of safety, Candyman said, was to learn how to survey the area before going into the water.

“Candyman took us all down to the beach and into the water to look at the channel and where the Rip Tide and undercurrent are,” said instructor for the Toa o’le Tai, Zero Iaulualo. “It was a great learning experience for the students to be at a different location. Overall, I think the students got a lot out of it.”

The Bruckner Chase (Uila o le Sami) Toa o’le Tai (Ocean Heroes) program and Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary invited anyone from the ages 17-20 years old at the beginning of this year, to take part in the Toa o’le Tai program.

The program was created with the Department of Commerce and in partnership with the Department of Public Safety to protect the local communities and the marine environment, while creating American Samoa’s first Ocean Lifeguard Agency. It uses highly trained peer educators and mentors to provide free instruction to youth of the community on how to safely be in and around the ocean.

The peer educators are a select group of older teenagers who are trained in ocean safety, open water swimming and ocean conservation. Youth who complete the Toa o’le Tai training successfully, are awarded the Bruckner Chase ‘Toa o’le Tai’ certificate and are then charged with providing classes and structured open water experiences for other youth, organized through villages and/or schools.