Wednesday, June 30, 2004
An hour of sweat, a summer of wet
By Kevin Aldridge
Enquirer staff writer
Councilwoman Laketa Cole said she sees a disturbing image every time she passes by one of Cincinnati's 41 municipal swimming pools.
JoVaun McCrary, 11, (right) plays with his friend, Dayvonn Dickey, 11, at the Ziegler Pool in Over-the-Rhine.
Pool manager Melanie Disney (right) is helped by Jeremy Johnson, 12, as they move a trash can at the Zeigler Pool. Jeremy and Rayvon Lowe, 11, (right) are doing the work to earn pool passes.
Enquirer photos by STEVEN M. HERPPICH
"The pools are not as filled as they should be," Cole said. "There are more kids on the outside looking in than there are kids in the pool."
Many of those children "on the outside" come from low-income families and can't afford even the modest $5 fee for a one-year membership, Cole said. That's why she has been asking residents to buy at least two pool passes and donate them to neighborhood pools this summer.
Cole said so far she has raised enough money to purchase 519 pool passes. The passes will be equally distributed among the city's pools.
"Each facility knows what kids need the help," Cole said.
The councilwoman will host a pool party at 11 a.m. July 10 at the Bond Hill pool to celebrate the success of the program. The passes are not just handouts for city kids, Cole said.
"Each child that receives a pool pass has to sign an agreement to help a minimum of one hour to clean up the pool or their neighborhood," she said. "We have to make these kids responsible and accountable as well."
Cole's project complements a similar program under the auspices of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. The recreation commission's Sweep & Swim program gives disadvantaged youth a chance to earn a pool pass in exchange for a few hours of labor.
Jincey Yemaya, recreation commission aquatics director, said 7-year-olds and older can arrange with a pool manager to help sweep glass, pick up litter from the pool and playground area, and clean the pool deck. A parent or guardian can do the same work for a child 6 years of age or younger.
For $5 for the year, citywide pool tokens for all ages are available at these pools:
Avon, Bond Hill, Bush, Camp Washington, Dempsey, English Woods, Evanston, Filson, Krueck Indoor (year-round), Lincoln, Madisonville, McKie, Millvale, Mount Auburn Warm Water Indoor (year-round), North Fairmount, Over-the-Rhine Indoor (year-round), Oyler, South Fairmount, Washington Park, Winton Hills, Ziegler, Bold Face, Caldwell, Fairview, Hoffman, Inwood, LeBlond, Otto Armleder Aquatic Complex and Winton Place.
For $10 for the year, citywide pool tokens for all ages are available at these pools:
College Hill, Mount Adams, Oskamp, Dickman, Hartwell, Mount Washington, Oakley, Pleasant Ridge, Ryan and West High Indoor (summer only).
Concourse Fountain on the riverfront and Dyer Sprayground are available at no charge.
Nearly 200 children received memberships through the program last year, Yemaya said.
"Even $5 can be hardship for some families, especially those with a number of children," Yemaya said. "We don't want that to get in the way of creating some fun summer memories at the local pool for these kids. We don't turn anybody away."
Yemaya said the recreation commission even tries to provide swimsuits for kids who need them through its Suit Our Summer program. The recreation commission accepts donations of new or slightly used swimsuits. The program provided suits for close to 1,000 people last year.
"We want as many people as possible involved in our aquatics program," Yemaya said. "We don't ever want it to be a hardship for somebody."
For additional information or to make a donation: 357-7665 or 352-3466.
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