Program and Special Events Highlights
River Safety Program
What inspired you to do the River Safety program?
What does the River Safety program entail?
The River Safety Program is a sponsored community program that fits into our existing swim lesson structure. It involves outreach to immigrant and low income families, and provides access to swim lessons and water safety education for those who might not access it otherwise.
Participants sign up for 16 thirty-minute swim lessons over 4 weeks for the children (this includes 2 sessions within our swim lesson structure) and 2 River Safety Days for the whole family. On the River Safety Days, we go over how to use a life jacket, various ways to do a reaching or throwing assists, swimming with a buddy, etc. It is a similar platform to a standard American Red Cross Basic Water Rescue class. For the swimming classes, we’ll do a ratio: 2 instructors to 6-8 children. For the River Safety Days, we’ll have a lifeguard, a manager and 4 ARC Water Safety Instructors. It took about 4 months from its inception to the first day we got this program up and running.
The cost is $10 per child, but this fee really only creates a commitment so that the family will attend the whole River Safety program, and we waive it if needed. The main funding is covered by our local Kiwanis, Rotary, and Soroptimist organizations. We also partner with DART (Drowning Accident Rescue Team) who attend River Safety Days; participating in the instruction, explaining their mission to the families, and showing the kids their rescue equipment.
What are some of the challenges you face with this program?
What are the benefits that you see with the program?
We find that the families that participate in the program often return to the pool and integrate into the existing swim program the following year. We also see participant families referring extended family, friends, and neighbors; mostly all first-time members of the community that have never been exposed to water safety and drowning prevention. This has allowed the program to grow over the years. We can enroll about 40 children each year, and have had a waiting list for the past few summers. We also see participant families become aware of what Sunrise RPD can offer in programming and services, and they begin to participate in our other programs as well.