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Free access to public pools are vital for the youth

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Investing in free swimming activities for the city’s youth is a positive thing that promotes safety, health and personal growth. Swimming programs can create opportunities for youth to engage in an inclusive community environment while building self-confidence, discipline and leadership skills.

New York City’s latest budgeting plan allocated $5.3 million to the Department of Parks and Recreation, which will be used to open public pools for free swimming lessons and training sessions for teens to become lifeguards.

New York’s incoming funding for children’s swimming activities is a promising sign as the city faced lifeguard shortages during the summer season. Programs in the community that focus on connecting young kids and building their skills is important, especially as they are on summer break.

Sue Donoghue, the city parks commissioner, spoke on the recent development, highlighting the significance of free access to public pools.“We’re building swim equity across the city, bringing more kids and teens access to swimming instruction in their own neighborhoods,” Donoghue said.

City programs, such as the “Learn to Swim” program, are vital programs keeping young people active during a summer season when record breaking heat is occurring. Additionally, this program will train teenagers who have swim experience to work as lifeguards to compensate for the shortage of lifeguards.

There were 778 lifeguards to watch 53 of the city’s pools and cover 15 miles of beaches in July 2022, The City reported. In July 2023, 750 lifeguards were on duty and had to cover 11 miles of beaches.

While paid fees can be important to create well-developed and high-quality programs, providing free programs — such as swimming lessons — is a powerful way to increase access for kids who may not have the resources to participate if it were a paid activity.

Council members have introduced bills to build more pools in neighborhoods where the youth who reside there would normally not have access to them. Adrienne Adams, one of the city’s council speakers, advocated for the funding for more swimming lessons and year-round open pools in March 2023.

The introduced bills acknowledge how keeping underprivileged youths productive during their respective summer breaks is crucial in promoting healthy living to certain socioeconomic groups that normally do not have access to them.

Swimming lessons can teach a valuable life skill that promotes water safety and protects lives.

While deaths caused by drowning are often accidents and not done with malicious intent, swimming lessons could lower the amount of drowning-related deaths, especially since drowning is the leading cause of death in children.

Drowning-related deaths are also more prevalent among communities of color.

According to The New York Times, a CDC analysis found that Black children between the ages of five and nine were 2.6 times more likely to drown than white children.

Safety is a highly important factor in promoting swimming programs for city youth. The incoming funding will allow the parks department to keep up with it.

The arrival of funding for public pools highlights another important factor in the cruciality of the overall wellbeing of the public: investing in community building programs.. These types of programs foster social cohesion, promote inclusivity and address the diverse needs of the community.

City-funded community programs also provide opportunities for residents to connect with, collaborate and support one another, which can lead to stronger neighborhoods and a sense of belonging.

By investing in community-building programs, New York City enhances civic engagement, reduces inequality amongst the five boroughs and creates a more vibrant city for its residents.

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Jahlil Rush
Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant
Jahlil Rush is a Production Assistant for The Ticker.
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