The Forum: Conte student honored for coaxing wary swimmers

Tuesday June 25, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Ashlee Langlois is the Pittsfield Prevention Partnership S.A.Y. It Proud Award for June.

Langlois, 10, a fifth-grader at Conte Community School, is the daughter of Claire and Mike Langlois. Ashlee was nominated for the award by Marie Ruel, aquatic director for the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center.

Ruel said she met Langlois when the student was about 6, and described her as a "shy, quiet and reserved" girl who was a "polite" but reluctant swimmer.

"When Ashlee took lessons she always tried her best but was reluctant to enter the water head first. She seemed intimidated by others that were able to do it. As she built trust in herself and other lifeguards, her confidence emerged. She was soon able to dive in head first.

Ashlee became a strong swimmer and joined swim club. She makes friends easily and is eager to help anyone who is reluctant to try something. She encourages them to trust her and says, ‘it’s not as scary as you think.’ "

Ruel said she enlisted Ashlee to help her with a group lesson of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds as two of the children had special needs and needed extra attention.

"When one little guy would climb out of the pool and run down the deck, Ashlee took the initiative to stay in front of him and encourage and lead him back to the instructor, smiling, talking and holding his hand. Her voice was the sweet, soft voice that I’ve often heard say "good job" after each child accomplished something new," Ruel wrote.

Ashlee has since moved up to help another group. Ruel said Coach Jim Harrington speaks very highly of Ashlee as she now helps with his class.

Ashlee overcame another fear this year -- joining the swim team and competing this past February.

Ruel said Ashlee now shares her accomplishments with others, hands out treats to children at the end of each swim session, and takes initiative to help out wherever she is needed.

"The once shy little girl has blossomed into a confident, strong young lady," said Ruel. "Ashlee is a great help to the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center as she volunteers countless hours to help children who need her."


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