July 20, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Operation Splash launches at Stoner Park in West Los Angeles

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At 12:45 pm on Monday, June 9 children of mixed ages gathered at Stoner Park pool in West Los Angeles for a day of swimming. To an average citizen, this may not seem like anything out of the ordinary. But to these children, and to the adults who made it possible, this event was quite extraordinary.

The children were able to swim in that pool thanks to a Kaiser Permanente Southern California program called Operation Splash. This program has been successfully providing children, teens, and adults in low-income areas the opportunity to learn how to swim for nine years.

Gustave Ortega, a Registered Dietician from Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, explains of Operation Splash that, “It is part of our Healthy Eating, Active Living program we have over at Kaiser Permanente where we focus on increasing awareness of physical activity and of food as a way to combat childhood and adult obesity.”

Kaiser Permanente Southern California launched Operation Splash on Monday at Stoner Park. The annual free program teaches children and adults in low-income areas to swim.
Kaiser Permanente Southern California launched Operation Splash on Monday at Stoner Park. The annual free program teaches children and adults in low-income areas to swim.

On this Monday, Operation Splash celebrated its most recent grant to the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Aquatic Division.

The grant, which was for $265,000, was intended for a number of initiatives.

First, to make free swim lessons available at 33 different sites for 6,000 children.

Second, to afford scholarships to 78 youth ages 10 to 17 at 46 different pools.

Third, to open seven city pools six days early for a pre-season to serve 7,000 pool patrons.

Fourth, to increase awareness about the effects of sugary beverages on the obesity epidemic through the Rethink Your Drink Campaign.

There was a myriad of people at Stoner Park pool on this sunny Monday afternoon: elected officials from Los Angeles City Hall, the Vice President of Operations of Kaiser Permanente, the Commission President and General Manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Vice President of Grant and Programs of LA84 Foundation, the Global Messenger of the Special Olympics World Games, esteemed doctors, and highly trained dietitians.

All of these people, despite their importance, were all there to happily celebrate the children in attendance, the City of Los Angeles Special Olympic Swim Team, and the Junior Lifeguards.

There was a feeling of joy that emanated from everyone, but especially the children.

Affording swim lessons to children, who couldn’t normally participate in them, is about more than just teaching children how to survive in water. It is about giving them hope that someone believes in them.

Through hope, these children learn about how to live healthy lives.

One girl said through a toothy smile, “I like swimming because when you’re underwater it feels like you’re flying!” And then on a more serious note, “It’s also good for exercise.”

The people of Los Angeles can see the importance of grants like these and the huge roles they play in the lives of children.

What began in 2006 as a partnership between Kaiser Permanente and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Aquatic Division, has grown to have a large following of supporters. Funding is currently at $4.8 million.

Clearly, this program is meaningful to the community.

However, Kaiser Permanente will not stop there. This program is expanding to support other communities outside Los Angeles.

In 2014, they will provide the City of San Bernadino’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department with $30,000, the City of Riverside’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department with $55,000, the Desert Recreation District of Coachella Valley Recreation and Park District with $55,000, the North of the River Recreation and Park District of Bakersfield with $35,000, the City of Ventura’s Community Services Department with $35,000, and the Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation Department with $55,000. These grants have the ability to effect the lives of countless children, teens, and adults.

As one boy explained about swimming, “You feel like you’re in space, like you could do anything.”

Operation Splash beautifully empowers the City’s youngest generation to be happy and healthy.

Stoner Park is located at 1835 Stoner Avenue, Los Angeles.

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