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Desert Recreation District is offering scholarships for free youth swim lessons

As the kids wrap up the school year and we enter the hot Summer months, more people will be spending time by the pool!

A simple swim lesson can be lifesaving, and Desert Recreation District is helping families get access to free swim lessons.

"In the desert a lot of us have pools. We may not think about it, because it's out of sight, out of mind," says Scott Sear with the Desert Recreation District.

That false sense of security can lead to a drowning, if a child is left unsupervised.

According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, and most of those drownings happen in swimming pools.

Hailey Hellenga has been a lifeguard with Fritz Burns Pool for two years and shares the importance of teaching children how to swim.

"If the child does fall into the pool, we feel it's important that they have the skills to be able to safely float themselves in the water," says Hellenga.

Desert Recreation District is receiving a little over $360,000 in combined funding from Kaiser Permanente and First Five Riverside County Children and Families Commission to offer free swim lessons to valley families.

"This year’s lessons will take place at four area pools managed by Desert Recreation District, which include Bagdouma Community Pool in Coachella, Fritz Burns Pool in La Quinta, Mecca Community Pool, and Pawley Pool Family Aquatic Complex in Indio," says Sear.

Families receiving public assistance will have priority, but officials say there are no requirements for applicants.

"We're going to make sure every kid that takes these classes is going to walk out there with a sense of, 'I know I'm educated about pool safety,' says Sear.

And of course, children will have some fun while learning how to swim!

"Turning something that's a life skill also into a really fun activity. So we do a lot of things. We will sing songs, we'll bring toys out just help make the whole experience really fun for them," says Sear.

There are two separate applications, one for children between the ages of 18 months to 5 years and another application is available for children over the age of 5 years old.

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Bianca Ventura

Bianca Ventura joined KESQ News Channel 3 as a reporter in February 2022.


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