Special Olympics Athletes Help Open Lincoln Heights Summer Pool Program

June 11, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

The calendar may still say it’s spring, but at Downey Recreation Center in Lincoln Heights Monday, summer was in full swing with the start of the annual swim season and Operation Splash, a free summer swim program for low-income children and adults available at some City of Los Angeles public pools.

Lincoln Heights — a neighborhood on the city’s eastside — is one of several local hosts sites for next month’s 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles and on Monday some athletes competing in the Special Olympics were on hand to kickoff the free summer program.

Among them was Joshua Fontelera, a twenty-three-year-old athlete with autism who for the last 12 years has been a regular at city pools, taking full advantage of the city’s free swim programs. This summer he will be an alternate at the Special Olympics Games.

Children get ready to jump in the pool during the kick off event in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Children get ready to jump in the pool during the kick off event in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“I feel really good [being here] because I like to swim,” Fontelera told EGP as his mother proudly showed the gold medals he has won in past competitions. On Monday, he had the added job of leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the event.

Operation Splash —which runs from June to August — is a Kaiser Permanente program run in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and LA84 Foundation, a legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games.

“Operation Splash gives money to the pools so we can come here,” said Fontelera, adding that being in the pool is the “best therapy.”

Kaiser has given the L.A. Dept. of Recreation and Parks Aquatics Division a $240,000 grant to promote physical activity; another $85,000 was awarded by LA84 to help cover program costs at 34 public pools across the city.

“Last week we opened seven pools and on June 13, all 34 pools will be open,” recreation and parks General Manager Michael Shull said.

Lea este artículo en Español: Atletas de las Olimpiadas Especiales Inauguran Programa de Natación

The grants will pay for free swim lessons for 6,000 low-income children and adults, 780 Junior Lifeguard Training scholarships for youth ages 10-17 and for “Rethink Your Drink Campaign” ads to increase awareness about the link between sugary beverages and obesity.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4,000 people die from drowning each year: It is one of the leading unintentional but preventable causes of deaths in the U.S.

About 60% of African American children and 70% of Latino children don’t know how to swim, according to the USA Swimming Foundation.

Many people go to local pools and beaches to cool off during the summer, so it’s important to ensure that everyone is safe and learns to swim, said Gabriela Tovar, manager of grants and programs for LA84.

“With programs like ours, we hope to make changes to these statistics,” Tovar said, explaining LA84 has been funding city of L.A. programs “to provide swim lessons as well as introduce youth to swim team, dive, synchronized swimming and water polo” for 30 years.

Mothers like Fontini Revivo say the free programs are extremely important for all children, bit especially those with disabilities.

Not everyone can afford to have a pool at home, nor do they have the skills needed to teach children with disabilities, she said.

Revivo’s 14-year-old daughter Ariel will compete this summer at the Special Olympics in the free-style swimming category. “It is fabulous to have my daughter in the [free swim] programs because she doesn’t get to participate in a lot of regular activities,” the proud mother told EGP.

“Now the facility will be able to accommodate children with special needs” like her daughter, she said.

Ariel said she loves swimming because it gives her the chance “to be alone” and to at the same time “work with a team.”

On Monday, Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) recalled going to the public pool while growing up on the eastside. “Back in my day, I think it was a quarter or a nickel to go into the pool at Costello” Recreation Center, he said. “For young people, it’s an incredible place to put all their energy, positively and constructively,” he said.

Joshua Fontelera, 23, proudly wears medals he has won in past competitions during Operation Splash kick-off event Monday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Joshua Fontelera, 23, proudly wears medals he has won in past competitions during Operation Splash kick-off event Monday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

There are still plenty of scholarships available for free lessons, according to Patricia Delgado,principal recreation supervisor I of the Aquatics Division with the Dept. of Recreation and Parks. “Registration will be conducted on June 14, 2015 at 10 am [at each pool site], sponsorships are available on a first come, first serve basis.”

Operation Splash is part of Kaiser Permamente’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) program, focused on reducing obesity in the community by encouraging more safe physical activity and healthy, affordable food.

The Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports competition for people with intellectual disabilities, will be held this year in the Los Angeles area from July 25 to Aug. 2.

 

East and Northeast L.A. area Operation Splash Public Pools:

Lincoln Heights: Downey Pool, 1775 N. Spring St., (323) 304-0828

Glassell Park Recreation Center: 3707 Verdugo Rd., (323) 226-1670

Highland Park Recreation Center: 6150 Piedmont Ave, (323) 226-1669

Eagle Rock: Yosemite Recreation Center, 1840 Yosemite Dr., (323) 226-1668

Boyle Heights: Pecan Pool, 120 S. Gless St., (323) 526-3042 and Roosevelt High School, 456 S. Matthews St., (213) 485-7391

East Los Angeles: Costello Recreation Center, 3121 E. Olympic Blvd. (323) 526-3073

El Sereno: Richard Alatorre Indoor pool, 4721 Klamath St., (323) 276-3042

 

For more information visit: www.laparks.org or call (323) 906-7953.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Operación Splash Llega Cargada de Diversión

June 26, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Cuando Estela Montoya ve a su hijo Fernando Ramírez cuidando niños en la alberca, no puede olvidarse que fue apenas hace poco tiempo cuando él comenzó a participar en un programa de entrenamiento de salvavidas. Ahora a la edad de 17 años, Ramírez es uno de los salvavidas que estarán trabajando durante el verano en la alberca pública de Glassell Park.

Montoya y su hijo son parte de las miles de familias que se benefician de “Operación Splash”, el cual ofrece una variedad de programas de natación para familias de bajos ingresos.

Read this Article in English: ‘Splashing’ Into Summer Fun

Montoya le dijo a EGP que fue por medio de vecinos que ella se enteró hace algunos años acerca de las clases de natación gratis disponibles en Glassell Park, y decidió llevar a su hijo. “Esto es bueno para la mayoría de nosotros que no tenemos piscinas en la casa”, dijo. “Es un buen lugar para traer a nuestros hijos,” agregó.

Justo a tiempo para el verano, Operación Splash ha regresado por noveno año consecutivo en 33 piscinas a lo largo de la ciudad de Los Ángeles. El programa de tres meses, de junio a agosto, ofrece clases gratis de natación para niños y adultos. También en 22 albercas, jóvenes de 10-17 años pueden ser parte del programa de Salvavidas Junior, el mismo programa que preparó a Ramírez en su trabajo para el verano.

“Él trabaja aquí y lo disfruta mucho”, dijo la madre orgullosa. “Ahora el sabe como cuidar a otros niños” cuando nadan, agregó.

El martes por la mañana se inauguró el programa de verano Operación Splash en la piscina Glassell Park. Entre los participantes para la ceremonia estuvo el Concejal de Distrito 1, Gil Cedillo, quien representa el noreste de Los Ángeles. “La única cosa que el gobierno debe hacer es proveer más espacios públicos para la comunidad”, dijo Cedillo al darle la bienvenida al grupo de niños que estaban listos para saltar a la piscina.

“Mediante Operación Splash las familias de bajos recursos pueden venir y aprender a nadar gratis”, el Dr. Jack Der-Sarkissiande de Kaiser Permanente le dijo a EGP. “Queremos que los niños estén activos este verano y disfruten [su] alberca local”, agregó.

Niños de la piscina el Glassell Park disfrutan de sus clases de natación del verano que son ofrecidas gratis, gracias a contribuciones de Kaiser Permanente y la Fundación LA84. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Niños de la piscina el Glassell Park disfrutan de sus clases de natación del verano que son ofrecidas gratis, gracias a contribuciones de Kaiser Permanente y la Fundación LA84. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Operación Splash es una sociedad entre Kaiser Permanente, la Fundación LA84 y el Departamento de Recreación y Parques de Los Ángeles. Es parte del programa de Kaiser Permanente Comida Saludable, Vida Activa (HEAL por sus siglas en inglés), el cual se enfoca en reducir la obesidad al motivar a más actividad física y comida accesible y saludable.

La Fundación LA84 es un legado de los juegos Olímpicos de 1984 y su vicepresidente Patrick Escobar le dijo a EGP que por los últimos 28 años ellos han dado becas al Departamento de Recreación y Parques de Los Ángeles para sus programas de natación.

“Después que [los niños] aprenden a nadar pueden participar en otras actividades como water polo, natación sincronizada, y buceo, programas que también apoyamos”, dijo Escobar.

Aunque la beca de Kaiser es solamente para los programas de verano, la beca de la Fundación LA84 es para el año completo y ayuda a los programas de salvavidas y deportes acuáticos.

“Somos muy afortunados de tener el programa de Salvavidas Junior”, Viki Israel, asistente del supervisor general de parques y recreación le dijo a EGP. Agregó que su departamento eventualmente contrata a muchos de los socorristas jóvenes para trabajar como salvavidas [reales]. “No sólo conseguimos engancharlos a nadar, pero a conseguir trabajo en el futuro”, dijo. “No hay nada malo con el aprendizaje de la natación y de seguridad en el agua”, añadió.

Con la ayuda de la concesión de $265.000 de Kaiser Permanente y $84.000 de LA84, el programa de verano de Operación Splash ofrecerá 6.000 becas de clases de natación a familias de bajos ingresos; 780 jóvenes participarán en el programa de Salvavidas Junior, y parques y centros de recreación acogerán a más de 2.000 jóvenes en sus programas de natación competitivos, incluyendo atletas en formación para las Olimpiadas Especiales.

Richard Rincón, gerente de las instalaciones de deportes acuáticos en la piscina Glassell Park, dijo a EGP que en su sitio quedan cerca de 75 becas disponibles para jóvenes de 4 a 17 años y adultos.

“Para la clase de 4-7 años de edad, pedimos que el padre se meta con el niño en el agua”, dijo Rincón.

En total, de las 6.000 becas disponibles, ya se han entregado 3.500 por medio de la ciudad, dijo Israel.

Escobar dijo que la Fundación LA84 anima a los padres a enseñar a sus hijos a nadar, ya que “el ahogamiento es la segunda causa de muerte entre los niños”. También dijo que nunca es demasiado tarde para que los padres que quieren aprender a nadar lo hagan, ya que las clases que se ofrecen son para todas las edades.

“Los padres no deben tener miedo de llevar a sus hijos si no saben nadar”, dijo Escobar. “Tenemos salvavidas que están debidamente capacitados para cuidar de ellos”, agregó con confianza.

En el noreste de Los Ángeles, los programas de piscina de verano que participan en la Operación Splash, incluyen; Glassell Park, Highland Park, y el Centro de Recreación de Yosemite en Eagle Rock. En el lado este, Costello, Pecan, Richard Alatorre y Roosevelt están en el programa.

 

Para más información y ubicaciones, visite www.laparks.org o llame al (323) 906 a 7953.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

‘Splashing’ Into Summer

June 26, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

As Estela Montoya watches her son Fernando Ramirez keeping a close eye on the younger kids in the swimming pool, she can’t help but remember that it was just a couple years ago that he started the lifeguard-training program. Now, at age 17, he is one of the lifeguards who will be on duty this summer at the Glassell Park swimming pool.

Montoya and her son are among the thousands of families who will benefit from “Operation Splash,” a program that offers a variety of swim programs to low-income families.

She told EGP that it was friends and neighbors who a few years ago first told her about the free swimming lessons available at Glassell Park, and she decided to enroll her son. “This is good for most of us because we don’t have swimming pools at home,” she said. “It gives us a fun place to bring our children,” she told EGP.

Children jump in the pool at the Glassell Park Pool as it inaugurates the Operation Splash summer program in 33 public swimming pools in L.A. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia )

Children jump in the pool at the Glassell Park Pool as it inaugurates the Operation Splash summer program in 33 public swimming pools in L.A. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia )

Just in time for summer, Operation Splash is back for its 9th consecutive year at 33 pools throughout the City of Los Angeles. The three-month program from June to August, offers free-swim lessons to low-income youth and adults. At 22 pools, youth, ages 10-17, can take part for free in the junior lifeguard program, the same program that prepared Ramirez for his lifeguard job this summer.

“He works here and enjoys it very much,” said his proud mother. “Now he knows how to take care of the kids” as they swim, she said.

On Tuesday morning, the 2014 Operation Splash summer program was kicked off at Glassell Park pool. Among those attending the opening ceremonies was First District Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood.  “The one thing government has to do is get more public space for the community,” said Cedillo as he welcomed the group of children standing by ready to jump into the pool.

Lea este artículo en Español: Opearción Splash Llega Cargada de Diversión

“Through Operation Splash low-income families are able to come and learn how to swim for free,” Dr. Jack Der-Sarkissian with Kaiser Permanente told EGP. “We want kids to be active this summer and enjoy [their] local pool,” he added.

Operation Splash is a partnership between Kaiser Permanente, LA84 Foundation and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. It is part of Kaiser Permamente’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) program, focused on reducing obesity by encouraging more safe physical activity and healthy, affordable food.

LA84 Foundation is a legacy of the 1984 Olympic games and its vice-president, Patrick Escobar, told EGP that for the last 28 years they have given yearly grants to the City of L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks for the swimming programs.

“After they learn how to swim they can participate in other activities, such as water polo, synchronized swimming and diving, which we also support,” Escobar said.

Although the Kaiser grant is only for the summer programs, the LA84 Foundation’s grant is good year-round and helps support the lifeguard and water sports programs.

“We are very fortunate to have the Junior Lifeguard program,” said Vicki Israel, assistant general manager of parks and recreation. She said her department eventually hires many of the junior lifeguards to work as [real] lifeguards. “We do not only get them hooked on swimming, but  they get jobs in the future,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with learning about swimming and water safety,” she added.

This year, with the help of the $265,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente and $84,000 grant from LA84, the Operation Splash summer program will offer 6,000 swim-lesson scholarships to low-income families; 780 youth will take part in the Junior Lifeguard program, and parks and recreation centers will host over 2,000 youth in its competitive swim programs, including Special Olympics athletes-in-training.

Richard Rincon, aquatics facility manager at Glassell Park pool, told EGP that their site stilll has about 75 scholarships left for youth ages 4 to 17 and adults.

“For the 4-7 year-olds class, we have the parent go with the child in the water,” Rincon said.

Operation Splash kicked off at the Glassel Park pool Tuesday. The three-program will offer free swim lessons to low-income youth. (EGP foto por Jacqueline Garcia)

Operation Splash kicked off at the Glassel Park pool Tuesday. The three-program will offer free swim lessons to low-income youth. (EGP foto por Jacqueline Garcia)

In total, out of the 6,000 scholarships available, only 3,500 have been given out across the city, Israel said.

Escobar said the LA84 Foundation encourages parents to teach their kids to swim, because “drowning is the second highest cause of death among children,” He said it’s also never too late for parents who also want to learn to swim, since they offer classes are for all age groups.

“Parents shouldn’t be afraid to bring their kids if they don’t know how to swim,” Escobar said, “We have lifeguards that are properly trained to take care of them,” he said confidently.

In Northeast L.A., the pool programs taking part in Operation Splash this summer, include; Glassell Park, Highland Park, and the Yosemite Recreation Center in Eagle Rock. On the eastside, Costello, Pecan, Richard Alatorre and Roosevelt are in the program.

 

For more information and locations, visit www.laparks.org or call (323) 906-7953.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

Copyright © 2015 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·