November 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 50

Olympic Gold
Medalist
Cullen Jones
speaks to
children at
Make a Splash
Omaha

In the past two years,
there have been 4,395
deaths from drowning across
the country: 2,612 adults, 638 teens,
and 1,145 children 12 and under.
The drowning locations broke down to 1,135
pools, 304 ponds, 128 bathtubs, 70 ditches, 14 water parks, 40 hot tubs, and 106 other.
Nearly 70 percent of African-American young people and 60 percent of Hispanics report not knowing
how to swim, compared to 40 percent of Caucasians.
The fatal drowning rate of African-American children ages 5 to 14 is more than three times that of
white children in the same age range. For Native American and Alaskan Native children,
the fatal drowning rate is more than twice
as high as that of white children.

Children
enjoy a
swim lesson
at a Chicago
Park District pool.

a 2008 study indicated that 60 percent of minorities self-reported not knowing how to swim due to a
lack of both resources and parental support. A 2010
follow-up study outlined more specifics on what exactly not knowing to swim means. " Some kids think
they can swim since they can splash around in two
feet of water, " Anderson says. The statistics were
worse this time, with 70 percent of minorities not
knowing how to swim. " There was parental fear of
having their children around water. We can talk to
kids all we want about how they need to swim, but
we need the parental support, " she says. " One of the
parents in the focus group said, 'You can't be nice.
You need to tell us that our kids can die.' "
Anderson says USA Swimming is still working on
the best avenues to educate parents on the importance of getting kids into swimming programs, especially in targeting the women of the household, who
are more likely to make decisions regarding lessons.
" Parents are afraid to put kids in swimming lessons
because they worry they will drown, " Anderson says.
" Instead, they tell their kids not to go in the water over
their head rather than having them learn to swim and
be safe. Parents perceive safety if the water is shallow
and a lifeguard is there, not understanding a child
can drown in two feet of water if they went facedown. "
For the Dallas Park and Recreation program,
one way to educate the parents is by providing

48	 Parks & Recreation

No v e m b e r 2 0 1 0

www.NRPA .ORG

presentations on water safety importance to groups
like PTAs and homeowner associations, reiterating
that it is never too late to learn to swim. " We also
push adult lessons when parents sign up their children, " Steinshnider says. " More often than not, we find
that it's through the children that we are able to reach
the parent. Once we get the child interested through a
water safety presentation, they go home and nag their
parents to sign them up for swim lessons. When the
parents enroll their child and come out to watch, we let
them know we have programs for them as well. Then
swimming becomes a family activity, and not just
something for the kids to do by themselves. "
To entice children into swimming lessons, Dallas parks have developed a presentation based on
American Red Cross Whale's Tales program and tailored it to elementary grade levels. Also, kids in swim
programs are encouraged to join swim teams, a program which they can continue through age 17. These
swim team members then become lifeguards at their
local pool, providing home-grown swimming talent.
Such is the case of Atlanta Department of Parks,
Recreation and Cultural Affairs Aquatic Director
Lisa Vaughn, who learned to swim through Atlanta
park pools and now teaches the skill to others. " I was
very fortunate to have a mother who made sure that
I knew how to swim, which planted a seed in me that
would be cultivated by instructors at the local Atlanta area parks and recreation center, " Vaughn says.
But in Vaughn's teachings, she has discovered
that instead of swimming being viewed as a fun,
new endeavor to learn, minority children have a

top: daniel johnson. Bottom: chicago park district

Source: USA Swimming



November 2010 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November 2010 - Parks & Recreation

November 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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