Operation Splash Makes a Splash

More than 6,600 youths and their parents will be eligible for learn-to-swim scholarships and junior lifeguard programs at 48 pools in low-income communities under a program starting tomorrow in Los Angeles.

"Operation Splash" is funded by Kaiser Permanente and the city.

"Through the city's partnership with Kaiser Permanente, there will be a multitude of pools open this summer across Los Angeles that will create a safe oasis for children and encourage families to be active together," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

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 youth, who historically have low aquatics participation rates.

Nearly 60 percent of African-American and Latino youth cannot swim, according to USA Swimming, the sport's governing body.

"I am pleased that the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Pool is the site for the Operation Splash kick-off," said City Councilman Bernard Parks, whose district includes the new pool.

"Ms. Tatum, who worked for the city of Los Angeles for over 40 years, would be elated that her legacy is being carried out in such a dramatic fashion," he said. "She would be proud that this modernized facility will provide new and improved services for our youth."

Tatum, who died earlier this year, was the first female and African-American general manager of the city Department of Recreation and Parks.

The neighborhood has not had an operating pool for nine years.

The swim program runs through Labor Day, Sept. 7, with an additional eight- day extended run to mid-September at seven of the city's public pools.

By the time the annual program ends, Kaiser Permanente will have donated a cumulative $1.7 million to the city over four years, providing 31,000 swim scholarships to children and their parents; 1,300 junior lifeguard scholarships; one- and two-week September extensions for four summers at selected pools; and a new water slide at both the Jackie Tatum/Harvard Pool and the Northridge Recreation Center, according to the hospital.

Operation Splash has expanded to six other Southland communities, and by the end of the year, the cumulative funding will have grown to $2.1 million.

To learn more about Operation Splash and eligibility requirements, visit the city Recreation and Parks Department Web site or call the Aquatics Office at (323) 906-7953. Registration is on-site at participating pool locations.

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