Supporting Pool Access and Equity

The Community Coalition on Race's Board of Trustees sent letters to both township committees on May 16th in support of creating options for access and equity in pool access so that all members of the community can learn to swim and to develop water skills:

The Community Coalition on Race believes that access to community recreation resources is an equity issue and that access to a community pool for all people is both an issue of public health and social justice. Swimming is a life skill that contributes to safety and well-being but also to social engagement and participation.

USA Swimming reports that nationally 70% of African American children and 60% of Latino children cannot swim and 40% of white children have few to no swimming skills. And, according to the CDC: “Although drowning death rates have decreased overall, racial/ethnic disparities persist. Implementing and evaluating community-based interventions, including those promoting basic swimming and water safety skills among disproportionately affected racial/ethnic groups, could help reduce these disparities.” Since the 1960’s community pools were increasingly privatized and segregated, and swimming became a recreational culture for people—mostly white—of financial means. So, access to and participation in swimming is also a community inclusion issue.

We are asking town leaders to consider what options as it relates to swim lessons further our shared commitment to supporting our diverse community and racial inclusion goals. Teaching basic swimming and water safety skills is a life-saving intervention. We understand that offering access to swimming lessons at the town pool is under consideration. We ask that potential barriers to participation like transportation and unaccompanied minors are considered. We also ask you to consider an adult lesson option and that opportunities for practice and social time be considered as part of the inclusion goal.

South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race Board of Trustees

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