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play / 2015

Swimming for Life: Water Safety and Competition for Inner-City Youth

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Trojan Swim Club

The Trojan Swim Club Outreach Program is a free, school-based, high-quality swim program that began at a single South Los Angeles site in 2014 with 90 students and has served a total 260 to date. The success of the program has led us to plan an expansion of our capacity and partnership with LAUSD in 2016. By increasing capacity at our existing site and expanding to two new schools, we will reach 830 students annually with our rigorous water safety, swimming instruction and competitive program.

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

  • Central LA
  • South LA

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

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • Advocate with policymakers and leaders

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

  • Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs
  • Per capita crime rates
  • Percentage of residents that feel safe in their neighborhoods
  • Residents within 1⁄4 mile of a park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)

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

The Trojan Swim Club (TSC) Outreach Program was created as a direct response to the racial and socioeconomic barriers that contribute to the disparate rate of drowning amongst children of color - three times that of white children - and to this same group’s under-representation in recreational and competitive swimming. By empowering disadvantaged youth with the skills, confidence and desire to reach their fullest potential in life, these programs promise to be training grounds for success in and out of the water, and to change forever the lives of the youth they touch.

In the 2014-15 school year, TSC served 200 youth of which 66% were female, 34% male, 85% Latino and 15% Black. A team of 50 was launched to introduce the most passionate participants to the components of competitive swimming with the goal of preparing them to advance to a competitive program and compete in meets sanctioned by USA Swimming. Twenty-five will join a competitive program scheduled to start at Fremont High School in January of 2016.

Our curriculum is based on best practices in the field and is designed to help students acquire basic water safety skills, develop proper stroke techniques and also prepare advanced students for competitive swimming. The majority of the staff is made up of seasoned instructors with a passion for teaching disadvantaged youth to swim.

Our planned program expansion will allow us to implement high-quality swim programs at three schools in Los Angeles in 2016, providing 830 underserved youth with the instruction and mentorship necessary to develop basic water safety skills, learn how to swim, and for those that discover a love for swimming, to advance to TSC’s competitive swimming program with the potential to participate in college-level athletics.

We envision a 2050 in which all Los Angeles youth have equitable access to recreational spaces and programs. Access to high-quality swim programs is a single piece of this puzzle, but, we believe, an important one in promoting positive youth development. Beyond the more easily measured health benefits, programs like ours have been shown to reduce neighborhood crime and improve the academic performance and general well-being of the youth that participate. We want to bring Los Angeles one step closer to a 2050 in which every child has the same opportunity to learn to swim and be healthy physically, socially and emotionally, irrespective of their parents’ paychecks or the color of their skin.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

In order to maintain individual student and overall program progress, instructors conduct assessments periodically to evaluate student’s proficiency in mastering water safety and stroke development skills as well as program implementation. We pay close attention to attendance records to evaluate student engagement. Additionally, school administrators, teachers, and parents have opportunities to provide feedback on their satisfaction with the program and to influence program implementation strategies, administrative processes and related activities.

We also will have the opportunity in 2016 to collaborate with Los Angeles Education Partnership, a nonprofit organization that is building Bethune into a full service community school. This will grant us access to data they gather using an independent evaluator, allowing us to monitor the academic achievement and the health of our students in a more scientific manner and to better meet the needs of the whole child.

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

  • Money (financial capital)