Press Releases: Southern California
June 21, 2012
Operation Splash Kicks Off L.A.’s Aquatics Centennial Celebration!
Kaiser Permanente Southern California Invests More than $500,000 for Safe Summer Fun
LOS ANGELES — Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash officially launched the 100th anniversary festivities at Westchester pool today for the city of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Models donned swimwear dating back to 1912, photos depicted the history of aquatics in the city, and water fun reinforced a long-standing commitment to provide safe and affordable aquatic programs for the residents of Los Angeles.
Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash, now in its seventh year, is a free summer program that teaches children and adults in low-income areas to swim and promotes physical activity and obesity prevention efforts. Since 2006, Kaiser Permanente’s financial commitment to Operation Splash, funded as a Community Benefit program, has grown to more than $3.5 million.
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City lifeguards donning vintage swimwear for centennial celebration
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In the rear, Kaiser Permanente Southern California President Benjamin Chu, MD is surrounded by Operation Splash participants:
Far left and far right in white coats, Linda Mirdamadi, MD and David Alvarez, registered dietician from Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. In the center are pool lifeguards in vintage swimwear and members of the synchronized swimming team.
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Tom Jones, an aquatics manager at the Department of Recreation and Parks, believes in the program, “It’s in keeping with our goal to make aquatics accessible to everyone. My four girls learned to swim at city pools for 15 cents. In my mind, it’s unconscionable that little kids still drown. Our goal is to promote water safety and then improve swim skills.” Jones, now in his 60’s, learned to swim at the Westchester pool when he was seven years old. He was what they called a “pool rat” — a term used to describe young swimmers who would hang out at the pool during the summer because that’s where their parents worked. By age 13, Jones was a junior lifeguard. “I recently took the same lifeguard test that I took when I was 18 and I won’t lie, it’s not as easy anymore,” he said with a chuckle. “But I do it because I love it.”
Kaiser Permanente is providing a $265,000 grant to the Department of Recreation and Parks Aquatics Division to underwrite swim lessons for 6,000 low-income children, teens, and adults at 35 participating pools in Los Angeles; help fund junior lifeguard training at 48 participating pools; and extend the summer pool season at seven city pools, serving 10,000 pool patrons.
“Since 2006, Operation Splash has provided a fun and healthy way for children and their families to spend the hot summer months in Los Angeles,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles. “This year, as we celebrate 100 years of aquatics, Kaiser Permanente will continue to help Angelenos thrive by offering swim safety programs that encourage swimming as a daily activity for healthier lifestyles.”
A recent California Health Interview Survey reported that 77 percent of children ages 5 to 11, in Los Angeles County participate in less than one hour of physical activity every day. “Kaiser Permanente is committed to total health,” said Benjamin Chu, MD, MPH, MACP, group president for Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Hawaii. “Swimming and other aquatic sports provide excellent physical activity opportunities. We congratulate Recreation and Parks for its century-long commitment of access to parks and pools and with Operation Splash, we share in their mission to improve the health of our communities.”
Operation Splash is part of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) efforts to reduce obesity in the community by increasing opportunities for safe physical activity and access to healthy and affordable foods. For the fifth year, Kaiser Permanente has expanded Operation Splash outside the city of Los Angeles bringing its total pledge in 2012, to $513,000.
Additional grants for Operation Splash in 2012 include:
- North of the River Recreation and Park District, Bakersfield, $30,000
- Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation, Chula Vista, $55,000
- Desert Recreation District, Coachella Valley Recreation and Park District, Indio, $50,000
- City of Riverside, Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, Riverside, $55,000
- City of San Bernardino, Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, San Bernardino, $28,000
- City of Ventura, Community Services Department, Ventura, $30,000
“The LA84 Foundation wants every child in Southern California to know how to swim. This is the 27th year we are offering a Summer Swim program in partnership with the city of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks and other municipalities so that youngsters can learn to swim and participate in aquatic sports,” said Anita L. DeFrantz, president of the LA84 Foundation. “Programs like ours and Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash make it possible for thousands of youngsters in Los Angeles to gain new skills, feel comfortable in their neighborhood park pool, have fun, and enjoy the summer.”
“I am very pleased that through the efforts of the Mayor, the City Council, and our partners, Kaiser Permanente and LA84, we will be able to offer Los Angeles residents a full summer swim season at all of our pools, continuing this wonderful tradition,” said Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager, Department of Recreation and Parks. “I encourage everyone to come out to their local park and enjoy the pool; and remember kids under the age of 18 swim for free.”
Please visit the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks website, or call 323-906-7953 for information about participating pools in the area.
About the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Aquatics Division
The City of Los Angeles, Recreation and Parks Department, Aquatics Division offers families and community members many healthy, affordable and safe aquatic activities at their public pools, lakes, and beaches. Recreation and Parks oversees 61 swimming pools, 11 lakes, and two beaches. For more information please visit www.laparks.org.
About LA84 Foundation
The Foundation was established to manage Southern California’s share of the surplus from the highly successful 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Foundation received $93 million at its inception. Since it began operations in 1985, it has invested more than $200 million in sports programs serving more than two and a half million youth in the eight Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Its headquarters is located in the historic Britt House near downtown Los Angeles where it houses the world’s premier sports library and meeting facilities. The Foundation awards grants, initiates sports programs, offers coaching education and convenes numerous forums for the exploration of the most pressing issues in sport. For additional information, please visit www.LA84Foundation.org.
About Kaiser Permanente Southern California
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 3.5 million members in Southern California. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.