Pasadena-based Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans, is partnering again with the Department of Recreation and Parks in the City of Los Angeles for the 13th year of Operation Splash, a program that encourages parents and children in low-income neighborhoods to learn to swim and to reduce drowning.
Through a $408,000 grant by Kaiser Permanente for 2017-2018 to the Department’s Aquatics Division, Operation Splash will increase opportunities for safe physical activity especially for African-American and Latino children, who historically have low aquatics participation rates.
According to the national USA Swimming Foundation, nearly 64 percent of African-American children and 45 percent of Latino children cannot swim.
This year’s Operation Splash kicked off at Glassell Pool in Los Angeles.
“We believe people need both health and health care. That’s why we support community activities like Operation Splash,” Dr. Edward Ellison, Executive Medical Director and Chairman of the board for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, said in a Kaiser Permanente press release. “Our hope is that by providing swim lessons and junior lifeguard lessons across Los Angeles once again this summer, we can not only provide young people and adults with an essential life skill, but we can help them to stay healthy, have fun and really thrive.”
As part of Operation Splash, a Junior Lifeguard program allows youth between 10 to 17 years of age an opportunity to improve their swimming skills and receive a basic understanding of water rescue and first aid. The Junior Lifeguard program also teaches job skills that enable students to qualify for future employment as lifeguards at pools and beaches.
“I was five or six years old when I first tried learning to swim and I was terrified,” 23-year old Kahlif Carter of South Los Angeles said in the release. “I remember I didn’t want to move up in swim class because I was afraid of the deeper water.”
No one in Carter’s neighborhood was a swimmer as he was growing up. He enrolled in Operation Splash when he was approximately 10 years old and went on to join the swim team, play high school water polo, and become a junior lifeguard. He is now a lifeguard at Cabrillo Beach.
“I’ve come a long way and I’m really proud of myself,” Carter said. “Now, I’m learning to surf. I hope my story inspires other kids to put their fears aside and take the plunge.”
This summer, Kaiser Permanente’s grant underwrites swim lessons for 6,000 children, teenagers and adults; provides junior lifeguard scholarships for 780 youth; and increases participation in the Rethink Your Drink campaign, which raises awareness about the unhealthy impacts of sugary beverages and the benefits of drinking water.
Swim lessons will take place at 36 pools in Los Angeles and junior lifeguard lessons will be offered at 48 sites.
Operation Splash is part of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) efforts to reduce obesity in the community by increasing opportunities for safe physical activity and access to healthy and affordable foods. Kaiser Permanente said it has granted nearly $7 million for Operation Splash since the program’s inception. Operation Splash has also expanded to six other Southern California cities, bringing its total pledge in 2017–2018 to $856,143.
For information about pools participating in Operation Splash this summer, visit www.laparks.org or call (323) 906-7953.
To learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s programs dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and community health, visit www.kp.org/share.