With loads of energy and no money in their pockets, thousands of teens will soon get out of school, hit the streets hard, searching for summertime fun.
About the only option these days for kids and teens is the free stuff, and several local parks and nonprofits are giving the good times away.
This summer, parents can help kids not only stay cool, but stay alive.
Mitch Assumma, community recreation manager with City of San Bernardino Parks and Recreation, said his biggest mission is to prevent drownings, which by far outnumber homicides in San Bernardino County.
“We definitely need to teach our kids to swim because if we don’t, we’re losing them. They’re going to die, that’s just a given fact,” he said. “There are three times the amount of drownings than there are homicides.”
On Monday, June 11, children from 3 to 17 years old broke out their bathing suits for free swimming lessons at Operation Splash Kickoff & Summer Swimfest at Jerry Lewis Swim Center at Perris Hill Park. The event was in collaboration with the San Bernardino Drowning Prevention Network, Safe Kids Inland Empire, Network for a Healthy California and San Bernardino County First 5.
As part of a $28,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program, community pools are now sponsoring free swimming lessons.
“We are very thankful to Kaiser to offer the free swimming lessons, in addition to the ones we offer for a small fee. But, I understand, we have a lot of low-income residents,” said Mr. Assumma.
From now until the end of August, residents can swim low cost or free six days a week with Open Pool Swim sessions. Free swimming lessons will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Mill Community Center Pool, Hernandez Pool and Nunez Pool. Jerry Lewis Swim Center also holds two swim sessions weekdays from noon to 2:30 and again 3:00 to 5:30, and additional classes on weekends. Weekdays, 6:00 p.m. swim classes are held at all locations.
For just $25 a week, San Bernardino Boys and Girls Club Day Camp is also open for kids age 5-17, who can hang out all day from 7:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. with numerous activities, field trips and mentoring.
“We will have swimming hopefully starting next week,” said club program director, Tashika Le Sure. "We’ll allow our members to swim between 1:00 to 6:00 p.m., and of course we have two life guards on deck at all times.”
Depending on age, supervised kindergartners can play in the recreation room, play games, watch movies, and use computers. Older kids get the pool tables, and fifth to ninth graders can run off calories playing soccer.
Soon, the club is set to receive a shipment of instruments, and a group of students who already participate in bands in the community.
“They’ll actually be coming to the Boys and Girls Club to be members. They’re going to teach our kids how to play,” said Ms. Le Sure.
Right now, parents pay about $25 a week for Day Camp, which runs until June 29, but low-income kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch could participate at $10 a week.
“We’re also trying to get more trips going on. We’re planning Knotts Berry Farm with our teen group on June 30,” she said, adding that their music group will be performing on that day at the theme park.
Other field trips include hiking, a fishing trip, and other local attractions. Last Friday, there was a great turnout of local dignitaries, the Mayor and City Council, for the grand opening of the club's community garden loaded with vegetables, peppers, basil, and several varieties of tomatoes.
It’s more than about healthy eating. Kids will also learn to plant their business on solid ground.
“The idea behind it is to allow our members to learn to cultivate a garden, to grow their own food," she said. "We will be eating some of it, but we also want to sell it, and teach our members how to make a profit.”
For information on Perris Hill Park programs, call 909-384-5233.
For San Bernardino Boys & Girls Club Summer Camp, call the Boys and Girls Club at (909) 888.6751.