November 2010 - Parks & Recreation - 51

Cullen Jones helps
kids in Omaha
overcome their fear
of the water.

Resources
USA Swimming
Foundation
■■  Make

a Splash Program
statistics
■■  Minority swimming
participation reports
■■  Drowning

paralyzing fright of the water conditioned
from their parents or by personal experience with a near drowning. " I have witnessed adults who would not even walk
onto the deck because of their fear of water,
American Red Cross
as well as children, teens, and adults who
■■  Aquatics catalog
were introduced to shallow and/or deep
■■  Search for local chapters
water with a life jacket and refused to re■■  Organize courses
turn back for lessons, " Vaughn says. Fear
for your facility
of water is normal for first-time swimmers,
www.redcross.org
she says, but she has seen too many children and adults already in shock just at the
Diversity in Aquatics
deck of the pool. " This conditioning by par■■  Forum
ents to teach their children to have a real
■■  Blog
fear of water and to stay away from water as
■■  News and events
a method to prevent drowning has not been
www.diversityinaquatics.com
a successful preventive measure. "
757.240.1258
Vaughn says that other barriers for
swimming lessons can be slight and small.
" Something as simple as the cost of a swimsuit or towel can prevent a child from being able to attend classes to learn how to swim, " she says. Or, even
the lack of supplies for swimming. " The parents and
I have been especially pleased with the free plastic
bags that were provided for the children by our local Publix grocery store, so that the kids can put their
wet swimsuits away without wetting their homework.
Separate bags are costly, and once there is a mishap
this can become a deterrent to parents. "
There's also the issue of girls worrying about
getting their hair wet. " Unfortunately, most of my

daniel johnson

http://swimfoundation.org
719.866.4578

	

experiences have been with parents or children who
make the choice to not learn how to swim because
they would prefer to look cute rather than getting their
hair wet, " Vaughn says. " What I find that works for
most of the children is getting braids, using a shower
cap or, like my mom did, put investing in learning how
to swim a priority over having the latest hair styles. "
Ann Cordes, an aquatic training specialist with the
Chicago Park District, says free swim lessons for children and teens also can help get families in the door.
Another success has been coordinating swim lessons
with day camp programs. " Especially since we're right
at Lake Michigan, we need to push that swimming is
such a life skill, " she says. So, even if a child didn't sign
up for swim lessons, they will still get the benefits of
what is provided during day camp. Also, they have
found incentives to get Latinos into pools. " Adult swim
lessons encourage the whole family to swim, " Cordes
says, an idea that has resonated with the Latino community, because of the high priority it places on family
involvement.
As far as ways to encourage water participation,
Cordes recommends other park agencies keep an
open mind and try a variety of tactics. " If the kids
are already in the park, you can get them into the
pool. People say there are always kids playing basketball but they have trouble getting them in pool.
Have a water day. Try a variety of things to get over
cultural fears and differences, " she says. 

Andrea Lynn is a New York City based writer.

www.NRPA .ORG

No v e m b e r 2 0 1 0

Parks & Recreation	 49



November 2010 - Parks & Recreation

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