Goldfish Gives Back: Making Waves in Gales Point, Belize
At Goldfish, our mission is to help all children learn to be safer in and around the water. Through partnerships with the USA Swimming Foundation, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, and community partners across North America, were committed to making waves for water safety for all children. While we are always hyper-focused on helping the kiddos in our communities, we know that there is a shortage of access to quality swim lessons all across the world.
Since 2014, Alex Tyler, the owner of Goldfish Swim School – St. Charles and Glen Ellyn in the Chicagoland area, has been making the trip to Gales Point, a remote fishing village in Belize, surrounded by water, but limited by water safety education. He went there with one simple mission: to make a difference. Each year, hes done just that – teaching water safety education and swim lessons to the children of the community, helping them to enjoy the natural beauty of their village, while remaining safer and better prepared in an area that can flood easily.
Each year, Alex would increase his contribution to the community – bringing supplies and helping with repairs around the village. Building a relationship with the local pastor, Kenny Welch, who pretty much serves as the Village Leader, Alex became genuinely invested in the village, and the well-being of it’s amazing residents. He knew there was so much more he could do to help support the village, and the next year, he turned a ripple of kindness into a wave of water safety!
The Goldfish Family Jumps In!
Most families in Gales Point have proudly lived there for generations. While the area is full of natural beauty, the local community is somewhat isolated, and villagers can struggle economically. Alex saw an opportunity make a true lasting impact – help bring educational opportunities, construction handiwork and a sense of support from all around the US.
Seeing first hand the fintastic work Alex was doing, it wasnt hard for him to convince other Wavemakers for Water Safety to join him in Belize. In 2017, Alex put the call out to his Goldfish Family, and the crew was ready to jump in! More and more Goldfish Owners and team members started joining Alex in Belize. Those who were unable to make the trip themselves would fundraise, or send supplies. What started as a vision for swim lessons grew into an entire community project.
Every February fom 2017 – 2020, the Goldfish Team, led by Alex, would make the trip to Belize. Throughout those trips, the crew helped construct a home for a mother of two, made repairs to the local library and schoolhouse, and built a play structure for the children of the community. While the construction crew was hard at work, others were at the local school, reading to the children, teaching reading, writing, colors and math. To close out each day, the kiddos would meet the crew by the docks for their daily swim lessons, to build upon their skills and feel more confident in the gorgeous waters that were once off limits to them.
The Pandemic Pause
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Pandemic hit almost as soon as the Belize Crew returned back in 2020 – putting a two-year pause on the annual mission trip, with international travel limitations in 2021, and supply chain issues in 2022. While disappointed to not be able to see his beloved Belize community, Alex didnt hit pause on supporting them. He still held – and encouraged the Goldfish Swim School system to hold – the annual Candy Gram Fundraiser, raising $9,000 in 2021, and $15,500 in 2022 to send to the village, providing secondary school scholarships and transportation to the children of the village. The fundraisers continue each year in February, helping fund the mission trip and scholarships to keep making waves for our friends in Belize!
Diving Back In, in 2023!
As weve all gotten back in the swim of things, one of first thing on Alexs list was to get back to Belize! This year, 18 team members – owners, managers, instructors and lifeguards – from Goldfish Swim School locations across North America made the trip to Gales Point, to help tutor the local elementary school, build a home to house the pastors grandmother, mother, sister and two children, and of course, host daily swim lessons for the kiddos in the village! In Alexs own words, We had an amazing crew! They were extremely motivated to use every opportunity to make the village better!
Even more amazing? Seeing firsthand that the work that Alex and the Goldfish Family is doing, is making a true difference in the village.
You can tell the village has caught on to the concept of water safety. They have a buddy system rule where no one swims alone, or without an older child.
The Goldfish Safer Swimmer Guard Rule is in place in Belize how fintastic is that!
Whats more, some of the older children learned additional swim strokes, such as breaststroke and butterfly this year. The parents in the village commented that some of the teenagers, who first started learning with Alex nearly a decade ago, have been running their own swim lesson program for when Goldfish isnt in Gales Point – thats Growing Up Goldfish, at its finest!
Another full-circle moment? Three of the boys that Alex taught back in 2015 helped with the construction of the house.
This was a big highlight for me, seeing them start their professional life!
The rest of the swimsational crew also shared their experience on social media, and with their teams when they returned home. These Wavemakers in the Workforce felt the golden power of being a part of something bigger – making a difference, having fun, making kids smile, being a part of a team, and helping save lives. They brought what they do each and every day at their local Goldfish Swim School, and got to be a part of a life-changing experience!
My jobs pretty cool! I spent the past 5 days in Belize with some of the most amazing people. We spent a lot of time helping out at the school, writing valentines, building a house, and of course teaching swim lessons! Beyond blessed for this amazing experience! – Chloe, GSS – Anderson
Belize was an incredible trip, I felt so welcomed in Gales Point. I am so thankful to have been surrounded by the most genuine people in my 5 days there! – Ava, GSS – Okemos
A short trip, but a lasting impact mostly on us. – Manuel & Kaitlyn, GSS – Chapel Hill & Cary, NC
To Alex Tyler, and everyone who was involved with this incredible initiative and experience – whether it be attending the mission trip, fundraising through Candy Grams, donating to the cause or sharing the social posts to raise awareness, we are so finspired by you. You truly exemplify our core values of leading and living with Integrity, Compassion, and Trust ,and Going Above and Beyond in so many ways!
Were so proud to be a part of an organization that believes in giving back, and to helping make a difference – in our communities, with our team members, and across the world! We cant wait to see how this mission trip – along with so many other fintastic giveback initiatives across the Goldfish Family – continues to grow, make waves, and save lives!