San Francisco Recreation and Park Department: RPDcommunications@sfgov.org
YMCA of San Francisco: Danielle T Jones, DTJones@ymcasf.org
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A free program to ensure every Bayview-Hunters Point child is comfortable and confident in the water made its debut splash Tuesday afternoon at Martin Luther King Jr. Pool, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and YMCA of San Francisco announced.
The free learn-to-swim classes, known as the Bayview Safety Swim & Splash program, are part of an effort to invest in youth programs that are responsive to the needs and desires of the Bayview-Hunters Point community. The program arose from a series of commitments to the community laid out in the India Basin Waterfront Park Project’s Equitable Development Plan (EDP). Released last month, the EDP serves as a blueprint for delivering a park designed by and for the community while improving economic opportunity and environmental health for its residents.
Bayview Safety Swim & Splash is providing afterschool sessions over six weeks for more than 6,550 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. All participants live or go to school within zip code 94124. The pilot session, which is full, will break for summer and restart in the fall. To get on the waiting list, families can email email@example.com. The program provides round trip transportation from neighborhood schools and recreation centers, along with swimsuits, towels, goggles and other equipment. Swim instructors are provided by both Rec and Park and the YMCA.
“Bayview-Hunters Point residents are shaping and building San Francisco’s next great waterfront park. We want to ensure each young person in the neighborhood is also able to safely enjoy the water, from sailing on the Bay to having fun in a community pool,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
“There are now more opportunities for water activities and access to the coastline for our Bayview families. Learning to swim is imperative for the safety of our children and their families,” said Board President and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton. “Free swimming lessons for the children in Bayview is one of the best ways to ensure our children learn to swim.”
“Bayview Safety Swim & Splash is just one way the City and its partners on the India Basin Waterfront Project are making good on our promises laid out in historic Equitable Development Plan,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “India Basin is the most significant park investment in San Francisco history—but we can’t call it a success without investing in the people of Bayview-Hunters Point.”
The goal of the program is to have every child achieve Red Cross level 4 water safety by sixth grade, meaning they will be able to swim, float, breathe, and get to safety if needed. The YMCA is also developing a water safety job training program for older youth.
“At the YMCA of San Francisco, we are committed to responding to community needs, and our Bayview Safety Swim & Splash collaboration addresses a critical need to ensure equitable access to water,” said Jamie Bruning-Miles, president and CEO of the YMCA of San Francisco. “Additionally, this program recognizes that historically equitable water access has been denied to many youth of color. Therefore, the City and County of San Francisco, Rec and Park, and the YMCA are partnering so that upon completion of the India Basin Waterfront Park Project, Bayview youth can fully enjoy this incredible community asset.”
“The Bayview Safety Swim & Splash program addresses many of the areas of focus within the India Basin Waterfront Park Project’s Equitable Development Plan, including Youth Opportunities, Healthy Communities and Ecology, and Arts, Culture and Identity,” said Jacqueline Flin, executive director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute San Francisco. “The program is a significant investment in youth programming within Bayview-Hunters Point that will strengthen physical and mental health, while responding to community needs and desires.”
The $150 million India Basin Waterfront Park Project, which broke ground in June, is a partnership between the Bayview-Hunters Point community, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, the A. Philip Randolph Institute San Francisco, Trust for Public Land, and the San Francisco Parks Alliance. Once complete, the new park will include gathering docks for people to socialize along the restored shoreline; an accessible walkway and stairs to connect Bayview-Hunters Point with the expanded park, gardens and natural habitats; a public plaza for fitness classes, performances, and farmers markets; a lighted bicycle and pedestrian path that will close a gap in the Bay Trail, linking the Embarcadero to Candlestick Point; and an ecological education area where visitors can observe tidal mudflat habitats and native birds through small paths, decks and viewing platforms.
It represents the first time an EDP has been adopted in San Francisco, part of a burgeoning national movement with the goal of greening that keeps the economic and social benefits of a new park in the community and minimizes displacement. EDPs are a relatively new concept in urban planning—a document drafted with the community that allows neighbors to shape the future park and its programming to reflect their needs, desires and history.
For more information on Bayview Safety Swim and Splash, visit bayviewsafetyswimandsplash.org.