Eleven year-old Shana-Maude Curadeau clutched her plaque and sobbed as she hugged her mother.
Only now is it sinking in what happened three weeks ago with her and her longtime friend Elyla Jennings, also 11.
Both were at the pool in Michel-Ménard Park in Lachine in Montreal when a third child asked them to help get her 10-year-old brother, who was at the bottom of the pool.
“I was like shocked a bit,” said Curadeau. “We went underwater and when we touched him he didn’t have any reaction.”
The boy was drowning.
“When I saw he wasn’t moving, I picked him up and I brought him up to the surface and then (Shana-Maude) helped me put him on the platform,” Jennings explained.
Then lifeguards took over and revived the boy, who was later taken to the hospital and released.
For saving the boy’s life, Sun Youth honoured both girls Saturday. The awards were given as part of the organization’s Good Samaritan program that recognizes good deeds in the community.
“They went over and beyond what they should be actually doing,” Jonathan Caisse, Sun Youth’s crime prevention coordinator, told Global News. “So that’s why we’re pushing this program, to make sure that those kind of people actually get something in return.”
For their actions, each girl got a bunch of goodies from Sun Youth: a bicycle with helmets, plaques and schoolbags. Even a cake.
The girls’ parents say they’re stunned at what the girls did.
Shana-Maude’s mother Marie-Eve Curadeau said she cried when she heard the news.
“Because not everybody is going to do what she did,” she said.
According to the Quebec Lifesaving Society, there have been 50 drownings in the province so far this year, four more than the same period in 2018. To help prevent drownings, they encourage parents to get kids swimming as early as possible.
Elyla’s father says he’s thankful he taught his daughter how to swim.
“I’ve been teaching my kids how to swim as soon as they can walk,” he said.
Shana-Maude’s mom agrees that children should learn how to swim.
“Yeah! I’ve always been with her in the pool with the arms under the belly and swim like a little dog,” she laughed. “Now she’s much better.
Both think their daughters’ actions that day will serve as an example and inspiration for other kids.