learn / 2015

Learning to Save Lives: Training Future Lifeguards and Water Rescuers

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks

Geared for youth ages 9-17, the Open Water Junior Lifeguard Program operates during the summer at two open water locations within the City. Taught by certified lifeguards, our Program is competitive and rigorous, providing instruction in physical conditioning, competition skills, and the use of professional lifesaving equipment. Our Program is designed to educate and impassion youth to appreciate and respect the marine environment and introduce youth to a career choice in water safety.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, CA; Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro, CA

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Implement and track policy

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • Youth unemployment and underemployment

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Our Program recognizes that youth instruction requires more than classroom activity or simple repetition of tasks. Youth instruction requires respect for the student and a holistic approach that seeks to create a stronger, wiser, more tolerant person. That vision must extend to the role of the individual in his or her community beyond the time in the learning environment. This program provides opportunity to use paddle boards, beaches and the fellowship of the lifeguarding community in that learning environment. That’s a home field advantage we can use to build better youth, better communities, and a better City.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Our work will be evaluated based on the success of the participants. RAP instructors create a curriculum prior to the beginning of the program based on the United States Lifesaving Association, which is the governing body for all open water programs/agencies.

RAP’s program is divided into four age groups: 9-11/12-13/14-15/16-17. Staff set the same goals for all the different age groups. For instance, during the first year, the goals set for the younger group is to ensure water confidence in the surf and open water environment. By the end of the summer, all junior guards are to be confident in the following: Open water swim in ocean/lakes, Long distance swim and run, Run/swim/run time trials, Basic CPR-First Aid-swim rescues, Competitiveness at meets with other open water agencies.

The ultimate design for the junior lifeguards besides life skills and conditioning is to also be a feeder into RAP’s Lifeguard program. Many generations of our lifeguards began as Junior Lifeguards.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach