The last column highlighted the use of national programs and partnerships to increase minority participation in your aquatics programs. Now let’s take a look at how the use of local partnerships also can assist your organization in capturing this challenging target audience.
One of the best resources and partnerships any organization can
establish is collaborating with your local schools and
Parent/Teacher Associations. The Maryland-National Capital Park
& Planning Commission has been wonderfully surprised about how
supportive our local schools have been with distributing aquatics
program fliers and information to students, allowing managers to
install and update seasonal bulletin boards within the schools,
allowing for summer recruiting during school hours, and offering
students special events and field trips to our pools.
Managers are encouraged to reach out and work with physical
education and health curriculum staffs to co-develop water safety
programs and incorporate this information and activities into the
year-round school curriculum. If you happen to live in an area
where school-based food service programs are offered, targeting
your programming efforts to these schools could put you in a better
position to reach students most in need of learn-to-swim and water
Key findings from last year’s University of Memphis study
indicated that free and/or reduced-price school lunch recipients
reported significantly less swimming ability and also expressed a
significantly higher fear of injury and drowning as a predictor
variable of no and/or low swimming ability. This information
also sheds light on where managers can focus or initiate their
efforts when targeting schools.
Other potential marketing opportunities with your local schools
include sharing aquatics program information during morning
announcements, placing program advertisements in school newspapers,
establishing after-school water safety and learn-to-swim programs,
and working with Parent/Teacher Associations.
The National PTA has established a “Healthy Lifestyles”
initiative, providing parent guides and toolkits promoting regular
exercise and good nutrition for children in English and Spanish.
Reinforcing with your local PTA the lifelong health and safety
benefits that come from learning to swim and practicing water
safety provides managers with a relevant platform to further
promote aquatics programs and opportunities.
Another great partnership to establish is with local churches or
faith-based organizations. It's not uncommon for churches to
offer targeted youth programs and to sponsor regular activities for
young participants. Particularly in minority communities, the
church is where you’re almost guaranteed to find families and
children congregating and sharing information.
Working and programming with youth and teen ministries or
church-based social clubs can provide managers with access to large
groups of youths in need of learn-to-swim programs and water safety
information, and it also will open the door to potential lifeguards
and swim instructors for your aquatics programs. These
organizations often produce regular newsletters seeking ads from
local businesses. If your budget allows, placing a seasonal or
regular ad promoting your programs in these newsletters could bring
in new clients and establish your organization as a staple resource
within the community.
A final partnership that few organizations take advantage of are
sororities and fraternities, which can help co-program, reach new
clientele, and serve minority communities. Sororities and
fraternities often look to partner with organizations that promote
improved lifestyles and service to the local community. Most
members of these organizations are connected to prominent local and
national networks that can assist in spreading the word about your
aquatics programs and opportunities.
The best way to secure this type of partnership would be to reach
out to the organization of interest and to emphasize the need for
learn-to-swim and water safety programs in the community. Several
minority-based organizations serve local communities throughout the
United States, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the
National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations.
Improving minority participation in aquatics is not just an urban
issue — it is a national issue. As aquatics professionals, we
have the power and resources to reduce these statistics. One lap at a time!