People for Parks Fund Grant recipient, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Rec Plus swimming program, wrapped up a successful two weeks of youth swimming lessons at Theodore Wirth Beach and Webber Natural Swimming Pool earlier this month. More than 60 kids, ages 6-12, from either North Minneapolis’s Harrison Park Rec Plus childcare program or Webber Park Rec Plus childcare program were able to participate in a full week of swimming lessons with trained experts to introduce or advance essential swimming practices.
The Rec Plus swimming program was awarded funds from the newly established People for Parks Fund, which was created through the Minneapolis Parks Foundation’s consolidation with People for Parks in 2020. More than 20 organizations submitted applications for activities that promote community connections through youth and adult sports, arts and cultural programming, and experiencing nature.
The Rec Plus swimming program was chosen, in part, for its clear connection to one of the Parks Foundation’s guiding themes – equity and cultural inclusion. In its grant application, the Park Board noted that “children living in low income or minority neighborhoods have historically lacked easy access to swimming as compared to white or high-income neighborhoods, directly impacting their opportunity to learn to swim.” By offering swimming lessons to lower income communities and communities of color, Rec Plus swimming programs give these kids the opportunity to develop life-saving water skills. “The biggest deterrent to drowning is learning how to swim,” said program organizer Margaret Jeager.
Over the course of seven lessons, “Participants learned water safety, drowning recognition, swimming skills, and breathing techniques. These included: floating, kicking, and stroking techniques; elements of freestyle, backstroke, and breast stroke; as well as bilateral breathing, rotary breathing, and submersion,” Jeager said. “The kids also learned what the role of a Lifeguard is and what to do in an emergency and had a great time practicing ‘rescuing’ each other with the ‘reach, throw, don’t go’ technique and learned how to recognize a drowning victim and enact help from a Lifeguard.”
Throughout the course of the week long program, Jeager and other program leaders heard outstandingly positive and encouraging remarks from these young swimmers, including:
“I love swimming lessons.”
“I can’t wait to move up to level 2!”
“When is our next swimming lesson?”
“Look how good I’m getting at swimming!”
It clearly looks like it was a blast from the collection of images below, taken at both Theodore Wirth Beach and Webber Natural Swimming Pool.
Images courtesy of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.