6,000 participants at 36 pools to gain access to healthy activity, learn water safety, and gain job training through Kaiser Permanente's $1.7 million program
Kaiser Permanente and the City of Los Angeles kicked-off "Operation Splash," a healthy lifestyles partnership that will provide learn-to-swim scholarships to over 6,000 youth, age 7-17, and their parents at 36 pools in lower-income communities citywide. This fun and free program--which also will provide junior lifeguard program scholarships for an additional 600 youth--contains a multitude of socially-positive aspects, including increased access for traditionally low-participating groups, instruction in water safety, and job training for the junior lifeguards.
The kick-off in South Los Angeles at the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Aquatics Center was also the grand opening of the aquatics center, which is being dedicated to Tatum, the first female and African American general manager of the City Department of Parks and Recreation. Ms. Tatum passed away this year. The opening of the aquatics center is also special to the surrounding community since the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Recreation Center has not had an operating pool for nine years.
After remarks from officials, thrilled local kids will open the aquatics facility for the summer by going down the new tall winding water slide, provided by Kaiser Permanente as part of its cumulative $1.7 million donation in community benefit funds to the City. Over 150 kids will swim with family and friends, and many will also be celebrating the last day of classes within the Los Angeles Unified School District. They will be getting a one-day jump on others, since the pools citywide open on Saturday, June 20th, the day before the beginning of summer.Â
In teaching more families how to swim and in communicating the importance of pool safety, Operation Splash also aims to decrease the frequency of drowning, one of the leading causes of accidental death among young people, especially for African American and Latino kids, who historically have low aquatics participation rates. For example, nearly 60 percent of African American and Latino youth cannot swim, which is twice the rate of Caucasian kids, according to USA Swimming, the sport's governing body.Â