Join the celebration Friday, October 10, as the City of Chula Vista kicks off Operation Splash, the expansion of its swim program for elementary school children, made possible by a generous grant from Kaiser Permanente San Diego. Kaiser Permanente’s $50,000 donation will allow the Recreation Department’s Elementary Learn to Swim program to reach as many as 1,000 fourth grade students this year. It also covers the cost of transporting children from their schools to city pools. The program addresses childhood obesity and helps kids who live in low income neighborhoods learn about water safety.
During Friday’s Operation Splash, fourth grade students from Rosebank Elementary School will be showing off their newly acquired swimming skills at the Parkway Family Aquatic Center at 10 a.m. City and community representatives, including Mayor Cheryl Cox, will be on hand to recognize their hard work and to thank Kaiser Permanente representatives for their support.
“Last spring, almost 600 students from seven schools participated in the program,” noted Mayor Cox. “Kaiser Permanente’s gracious gift allows hundreds of additional youngsters to learn these critical lifesaving skills. What a wonderful way to give back to the community—through our children. We’re thrilled to have Kaiser Permanente as a partner.”
Many of the schools participating in the Elementary Learn to Swim Program are located in neighborhoods where obesity rates are among the highest in the nation. Swimming helps kids increase aerobic capacity and improve their overall fitness.
Students will be monitored throughout the program to measure their progress and endurance. And they’ll be encouraged to participate in a multitude of other free recreation programs offered by the City of Chula Vista.
“Kaiser Permanente has made it a priority to work throughout our communities to encourage healthy lifestyles, increased daily exercise, and healthier eating options,” said Diane Strum, director of Community Benefit and Government Relations, Kaiser Permanente San Diego. “This grant to fund Chula Vista’s Elementary Learn to Swim Program is a great fit for us as we strive to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.”
The grant from Kaiser Permanente comes at a critical time for the City’s Recreation Department.
A number of fitness programs have been casualties of the City’s ongoing budget crisis.
“We’re operating in challenging economic times. Community support is critical to the survival of our programs and, more importantly, to our kids,” said Recreation Director Buck Martin. “Childhood obesity is a threat to our children. We need more outstanding community partners like Kaiser Permanente to make a difference in the health of future generations.”
In 2005 the Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation was developed to help identify and raise funds for the Elementary Learn to Swim Program. Since then, more than 1,600 students have participated in the program.
Others included in Friday’s Operation Splash celebration are: Glen Googins, Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation; Alison Terry, Board of Directors, USA Swimming Association; Arthur Flippin, M. D., Kaiser Permanente, San Diego; and Manuel Gonzalez, Aquatic Supervisor for the City of Chula