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Lifeguard training for kids and a local high school teacher’s weight loss journey top this week’s 850 Good News

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:30 AM CDT
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NORTHWEST FLORIDA (WJHG/WECP) - Lifeguard training for kids and a local high school teacher’s weight loss journey top this week’s 850 Good News.

Summertime means fun in the sun and days at the beach for many.

But the beach can present just as much danger as it does fun.

That’s why the South Walton Fire District is educating young people on life-saving skills for the beach; how to be safe in the water, how to get out of a rip current, and how to save someone else.

“You get to be in the water and save people,” said Junior Lifeguard Elle Wallerstein.

“My sister did it and at first I didn’t like it but now I really, really like it and I’m going to try to encourage all of my friends to do it,” said Junior Lifeguard Sawyer Redmond.

South Walton Lifeguards hope the Junior Lifeguards will carry these skills with them for years to come.

A Holmes County school teacher that was struggling with obesity is now half her size and twice as happy.

Ponce de Leon High School Teacher Donna Hicks was once 500 pounds, which made even simple things like grocery shopping difficult.

A spinal cord injury changed her mindset and her life.

Hicks says her mindset played a big role throughout her weight loss journey but staying positive wasn’t always easy to do.

“Sometimes there were months where I thought, oh I’m tired of this,” said Hicks. “And then I would remind myself and I would look at pictures from you know the past couple of years and say you know this is why I’m doing this.”

Hicks journey isn’t over yet. She still has multiple skin removal surgeries ahead and another 20 pounds to go until she reaches her goal.

Panama City will soon have a welcome center for locals and visitors to enjoy.

The two-story building comes complete with a large open deck overlooking the bay, an indoor meeting space available for rent, and a covered patio area that will house public restrooms once completed.

Officials are excited to show the community how much they love Panama City.

The building was paid for entirely by tourist development tax money. No local taxes were used.

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