Includes excerpts from the article written by Rich Linton published in the Press Enterprise on August 4, 2012.
Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash program partners with parks and recreation agencies throughout Southern California, primarily aiming to decrease the frequency of drowning by offering free swimming lessons. This collaboration between Kaiser and the City of Riverside Parks and Recreation Department provides the community with a great way to cool off from the heat and enjoy a safe swim in the City’s pools.
“Operation Splash is designed to get kids and families active by enjoying the water and being safe,” said Cory Seale, a Kaiser Permanente COO.
The program goes beyond just teaching water safety but also supports the local community. With 10 years of continued support and donations by Kaiser Permanente to Operation Splash, the shelter-based kids at Riverside’s Operation Safehouse were able to use citywide pools at no charge again this year.
Operation Safehouse operates a Riverside emergency shelter for youth in crisis, providing programs and counseling dealing with peer pressure, family problems, drug addiction and abuse. Residency at the shelter is touted as an alternative to living on the street. While in residence at the shelter, the teenager’s identities are secret and guarded for their own protection.
“We try to provide outside activities for the kids to enhance their social skills,” explained Shelter Director, Jackie Moot. “In addition to swimming providing a good stress-release, it’s also a great social group activity.”
Public activities have included neighborhood Walks with the Mayor, hiking Mt. Rubidoux and now swimming during the summer.
A 17-year-old Safehouse resident, Marquize, was recently able to overcome a fear by going to a city pool during a field trip. “I must have stared at the diving board for 30 minutes before I took my first ever jump off of one,” he said.
Counselors and volunteers at Safehouse all agreed that the group field trips to the pool promote positive effects. “They get a break from their problems and they get a chance to be away from the confines of the shelter,” explained volunteer, Antonia Hebel.
Additional grants for Operation Splash in 2012 include:
- North of the River Recreation and Park District, Bakersfield
- Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation, Chula Vista
- Desert Recreation District, Coachella Valley Recreation and Park District, Indio
- City of San Bernardino, Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, San Bernardino
- City of Ventura, Community Services Department, Ventura
- City of Los Angeles, Parks and Recreation Department
Operation Splash represents the strength in our community of partnerships that work to improve the quality of life for all Riversiders. The collaboration between Kaiser Permanente and the City of Riverside provides a space for community groups in Riverside like Operation Safehouse to not only teach water safety but to also provide an opportunity for local youth to enjoy the socialization and summer fun of a day at the pool. Community collaborations like Operation Splash are the key to a unified city and make Riverside a wonderful place to live, work, and play.
For more information about Operation Splash, contact the City of Riverside Parks and Recreation Services Department at (951) 826-2008.
Watch the video below to learn more about Operation Splash: