Story contributed by Mimi Kalb, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
In the land of 10,000 lakes, and city with 65 public pools and 12 authorized beaches (and hundreds of boat and canoe launches, sailboat bouys, fishing piers, swim docks … you get the idea!), knowing how to swim is both a pleasure – and potentially a lifesaver. That’s why the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s swim lessons and lifeguard training are so critical to our community.
Since 2015, the Lupient Family has made a generous annual gift through the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to support aquatics programming with scholarships for swim lessons and lifeguard training, pool admittance fee scholarships, swim gear, and facility upgrades. The Lupient Family’s support has made it possible for thousands of Minneapolis youth to enjoy our pools and beaches more confidently and safely.
It’s also made it possible for youth like Mohamed Mohamed to become a lifeguard. This month, our community profile is brought to us by Mimi Kalb, who oversees the Park Board’s swim programming as Director of Athletics, Aquatics, and Ice Arenas.
“Mohamed Mohamed became aware of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board during his freshman year in high school, when one of our aquatic supervisors came to his school to recruit staff for the summer,” Mimi told us. “He was curious about working for the park system and learned about the aquatic attendant position opportunity. Mohamed applied for an attendant position and was hired. He always wanted to work for his community.”
“Mohamed’s journey has been special,” Mimi added, as she shared with us his story in his own words:
“I spent my first summer at Lupient Waterpark learning about being a good employee, improving my customer service skills, and practicing my swim skills by learning from my supervisors. During my second year, I continued to improve my swimming and began to teach swim lessons. My confidence in working with the public grew, so I began to work in the admissions hut more. I saw lifeguards making saves and providing first aid, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
“With the help of my supervisors, I began to prepare to take a lifeguard class by practicing my swimming and attending the weekly lifeguard clinics held at Phillips Aquatic Center for the next year. In my third summer, I was finally ready to sign up for a lifeguard class and I passed!! I began lifeguarding and continued to teach swim lessons at the waterparks. I continued to swim during my breaks, learn from head guards at in-service trainings, and worked independently to work on my lifeguard skills by watching Red Cross videos. When the summer was over, I went back to school, continued to lifeguard and teach swim lessons at Phillips Aquatic Center part-time, and worked independently to work on my lifeguard skills with my supervisors.
“The work that I have done with the swim lesson program is really meaningful to me because being of color and coming from a background of not knowing how to swim as a little kid, and coming into aquatics with very little experience with the water, I wanted to help kids who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn how to be safe around the water. My siblings who aren’t very good swimmers, I hope will be able to learn those skills, so I don’t have to worry about them. I speak another language and that’s been very helpful to me because we work with members of a community in which many people don’t speak English.
“As my lifeguard skills progressed during the school year, I was finally ready to take a Lifeguard Instructor (LGI) class and I passed!! Because of the resources provided and supervisors that pushed me, I went from an attendant who didn’t know how to swim to a lifeguard instructor.”
Featured image courtesy of MPRB