Monday, July 5, 2004

Working for a swim this summer


As the dog days of summer approach, no swimmer should be turned away from a public pool because he or she can't afford to pay.

Councilwoman Laketa Cole and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission are publicizing a plan to address the problem:

Let people who can't afford the $5 or $10 annual memberships to one of Cincinnati's 41 pools work an hour at the pool of their choice in exchange for a membership. Encourage people who can afford an extra $5 or $10 to buy additional memberships that will be donated to those doing the work.

It's a win-win proposal. Recipients work for what they get, and people who donate cash for memberships see their contributions grow at least two-fold.

The plan especially is helpful for kids. Cole is encouraging those who can afford it to buy extra pool passes and donate them to pools. Enough money has been raised to buy more than 500 pool passes.

"Each child that receives a pool pass has to sign an agreement to help a minimum of one hour to clean up the pool of their neighborhood," Cole told the Enquirer last week. "We have to make these kids responsible and accountable as well."

She's right. Cole's plan is similar to the Sweep and Swim program already administered by the recreation commission.

Jincey Yemaya, recreation commission aquatics director, said people have several options to work for memberships.

Adults or other guardians of children can work an extra hour to pay for a pass for children age 6 and under. Those 7 and above can volunteer to sweep the decks before pools open or pick up litter. Others can volunteer at swim competitions.

"The whole design is to encourage folks to take some ownership in the facilities," Yemaya said. "It's easy, and they'll be helping their local pool."

This is a good example of government and people working together to solve a problem. We encourage more of the same.

How to help

For more information, call 357-POOL (357-7665). Donations for pool passes or swimsuits can be made to: Cincinnati Recreation Foundation, 805 Central Ave., Suite 800, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

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