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Legacy Awards $10,000 to Help Kids Learn to Swim

A $10,000 grant to support Mount Rainier Pool's efforts to train new lifeguards and swim instructors was approved by the Des Moines Legacy Foundation in its 2022 annual budget.

It usually costs applicants $250 to attain lifeguard certification and another $200 for swim instructor certification. The Legacy grant allows pool staff to offer the classes for free.

Swimming is an essential life skill that has life-long health implications and benefits a child's education prospects, according to numerous studies. It also enhances a child's access to recreational and career opportunities while significantly reducing the chances of childhood drownings.

Unfortunately, there is a nationwide shortage of lifeguards and swim instructors.

"Legacy is particularly proud to help make sure there are enough swim instructors to support our kids as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Patrice Thorell, foundation president. "The significant part about this grant is that having enough lifeguard/instructors increases the opportunity for both little kids to learn to swim while our young adults will be developing skills that can benefit their chosen careers."

Although the training comes with no strings attached, Legacy is hopeful that the recipients will seek employment at Mount Rainier Pool.

"With the nationwide lifeguard/swim instructor shortage, these young adults are going to be in demand. But we're hoping they will choose to support the community that is supporting them," Thorell said.

The Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District operates Mount Rainier Pool, and District Manager Scott Deschenes said the Legacy grant comes at a particularly significant time.

"The District is not only trying to assist our kids coming out of Covid, but we are also trying to make sure that swimming instruction is available to all demographic groups across the city," Deschenes said. "Increasing the number of guards/instructors is essential to achieving those goals. Thank you, Legacy."

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