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Dec 28, 2001

Caye Caulker 10-year-old certified to dive

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It could almost be a source of national shame that more Belizeans don’t take advantage of the spectacular natural attractions that bless our country. However, as News 5′s Brent Toombs discovered today, there is at least one youngster in Caye Caulker who has decided to jump in with both feet and enjoy one of her island’s most popular activities.

Brent Toombs, Reporting

Meet Giselle de la Fuente, a typical ten-year-old. Favourite singer? Janet Jackson. Favourite actress? Julia Roberts. Favourite food? Pizza. And like any youngster who is lucky enough to call Caye Caulker home, Giselle spends plenty of time in the water.

But don’t expect to find Giselle splashing around near the beach. This pint-sized aquanaut prefers to spend her time exploring the wonders of deep.

Giselle de la Fuente, SCUBA Diver

“It’s fun, it’s exciting. You see lots of corals and fishes and new animals that you’ve never seen before and can’t see in shallow water.”

Still some six weeks shy of her eleventh birthday, Giselle just may be the youngest certified diver ever in Belize. Growing up on an island where diving is one of the main attractions, Giselle could not resist the call of the deep blue sea.

Giselle de la Fuente

“Lots of tourists would come over and you would see them go diving to Hol Chan, Blue Hole and all types of places and I was always wondering why, so I decided to see for myself.”

Wendy Auxillou, Giselle’s Mother

“We called a few dive shops to see if they would certify her. And it worked out perfectly; she got her certification two days before Christmas. So it was a great Christmas gift.”

Both of Giselle’s parents are divers. In fact her mother, Wendy Auxillou is a certified dive master. Understanding that diving can be a risky sport, mom has no concerns about Giselle’s safety.

Wendy Auxillou

“It’s all about having knowledge, or gaining the knowledge. If you know what your limitations are and what the framework is of what you can and cannot do, then you work in a safe zone. That’s what we try to do and try to teach her what her limits are in terms of diving depth and being safe underwater. As long as she understands and knows how to deal with any kind of problem that might arise underwater, she’ll be safe.”

Learning those skills came at the hands of the instructors of Frenchie’s Diving Services of Caye Caulker. Co-owner Efrain Novelo feels that when it comes to the deep, Giselle has the right stuff.

Efrain Novelo

“For one, she’s a bright kid. The surprising part is that she conducted the dive course along with adults and she kept right up with them. That is really good, it’s a good incentive for a lot of young Belizeans to get into. A small child has no fear, so it’s very easy. The only problem is keeping them back because they want to go, go, go.”

And if you need proof that Novelo is comfortable with children divers, look no further than his own twelve year old daughter Valerie. While it will be a few more years until either girl is allowed to dive without the supervision of a certified adult. By then, they may have logged more hours under the sea than older divers could hope to enjoy in a lifetime.

Reporting from Caye Caulker, Brent Toombs for News 5.

Both Giselle and Valerie are certified as junior open water divers, which allows them to dive up to forty feet as long as they are accompanied by an adult. They will be eligible for full certification once they turn fifteen.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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