Well, this posting marks our first discussion around efforts to increase minority participation in aquatics programming. In this month's Aquatics International, the new "Minority Report" column focuses on the use of national initiatives such as USA Swimming Foundation's "Make a Splash" initiative, CPSC's "Pool Safely" campaign, and National Water Safety Month to promote and engage minorities in learn-to-swim and water safety programs. Our department, M-NCPPC's Department of Parks & Recreation, regularly utilizes these programs to generate awareness around the importance of swimming lessons and water safety information for children and parents. We have found these programs to be extremely helpful in capturing new participants or patrons who have not visited our facilities before. These are nationally-recognized initiatives that we are able to connect with our local aquatics programs and also draw attention to this soon to be "epidemic" if we as aquatic professionals do not step up to the plate.
Now...let's hear and discuss your programs...
What programs and initiatives has your agency/organization used to generate awareness and increase participation among minorities?
What would be your advice for program managers struggling to capture this target audience (African American & Hispanic Populations)?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas! :)
For more information on the "Minority Report" column, please check your April issue of Aquatics International or click the below link:
For more information on M-NCPPC's aquatics programs, please check out our website:
Three programs that our agency, East Bay Regional Park District has initiated: 1) outreach swim program for the Latino communites in East Contra Costa county. We work with our foundation for funding and a community-based organization for recruitment and providing our program information. In our first year, we started the City of Brentwood, now in our 4th, we've expanded to Oakley, Antioch and now Pittsburgh.
2) We partnered with Mills College and City of Oakland to provide swim lessons to African-American and Latino children within the East Oakland region. Our Foundation provides the funding, our lifeguard service provides water safety talks, swim instructors and Mills and OPR provide pools.
3) We partnered with Hayward Area Recreation and Park District and American Red Cross, Bay Area Chapter to provide an aquatic experience for African-American families from South Hayward Region. ARC provides the funding, HARD provides the swim lessons and the pool, we provide the water safety talks at the Baptist church where the families are from, the boating/kayak orientations, and lastly canoeing at one of our lakes.
Through grants and co-pays, most participants either pay nothing or at most a $10.00 co-pay.
To your second question: from our experience, I would recommend looking into geographic location of your target population and the times of your programs. Access is a huge reason why people don't come. Another is timing. A lot of aquatic programs are set for families that have one free parent to drive kids around. This doesn't necessarily work for target populations. In our latino community, both parents work, so later swim lesson times are more attractive.
Great info and programs! Thank you for sharing your advice. I do have a question for you? Did your organization just approach your local chapter of the American Red Cross seeking their participation and support? Did you have to bring a proposal for your program to sell the idea or were they game from the beginning?
We have a great working relationship with our local ARC and I would love to expand our efforts to include future programs and partnerships with the chapter.
Again, I appreciate you sharing your info! Great job! :)
We created a proposal and presented to the Red Cross chapter. They were very interested and said they would get back to us. In meantime, we had our Foundation take the same proposal and look for money. They found a outside foundation that sponsored us for $15,000. We informed the Red Cross, and the Red Cross stepped in and matched, for a total of $30,000. I think what help sell the proposal was we partnered with 12 agencies in two counties to implement the grant, our foundation distributed the monies while our department was the field administrator of the grants.
What we've found which is helping us tremendously is the infrastructure that we created (the large partnership) has allowed us to go for larger grants and regional grants.