For thousands of families across the Inland Empire, swimming lessons are a luxury they can’t afford. That’s why Kaiser Permanente and the City of Riverside teamed up to start Operation Splash, a program that primarily provides discounted or free swimming lessons for low-income children and adults. Operation Splash exemplifies Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar, as we are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all. Riverside is dedicated to increasing safety and awareness and providing services for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
The program began seven years ago in part to help keep children safe and prevent drowning. Officials have reported four drownings and 38 near-drownings across the Inland Empire this year. The seventh year of Operation Splash kicked off two weeks ago at Sippy Woodhead Pool at Bobby Bonds Park on Riverside’s Eastside, with Kaiser providing a $55,000 grant to pay for the lessons. Overall the grant is expected to underwrite classes for about 1,300 children, teens and adults, provide 1,000 swim passes for low-income families, give 400 older residents swim lessons and provide 100 junior lifeguard scholarships for youths at seven pools in Riverside.
Operation Splash instructors are certified lifeguards, capable of teaching children as young as 6 months old how to swim and be safe in the water.
“It makes us feel safer knowing our kids know how to swim,” said Kathy Ngo, whose 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son receive lessons as part of the program. “During the summer if they go to the beach or the pool, not knowing how to swim could be very dangerous. My kids seriously didn’t know how to swim at all when we started. After only two weeks they were able to breast stroke, butterfly, freestyle – almost every stroke.”
Riverside Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey recently said the program has served more than 20,000 citizens since its inception.
To read more about Operation Splash, click here.