Operation Splash promotes water safety, healthy communities

IECN photo Maryjoy Duncan: City of San Bernardino Parks and Recreation Director Jim Tickemyer acknowledges Operation Splash partners First 5, Kaiser Permanents, and Safe Kids Inland Empire.
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IECN photo Maryjoy Duncan: Myra Juarez and her boys (L-R) Isaiah Perez, 7, Manuel Carrasco, 10 and Michael Valdez, 8.

Swim season in San Bernardino kicked off with Operation Splash on Friday, June 1 at the Jerry Lewis Swim Center at Perris Hill Park. The event featured vendors, water safety resources and a ribbon cutting ceremony that highlighted facility upgrades that included a new shaded area, re-plastered pool, renovated slides, filtration project and a replacement pool cover. The event, in its 9th year, is a partnership between Kaiser Permanente, First 5 San Bernardino, Safe Kids Inland Empire and the City of San Bernardino.

Operation Splash, funded through grants from Kaiser Permanente, offers services for low-income families, including free swim lessons and Junior Lifeguard training.

Last year Kaiser Permanente awarded the City with $79,500 to fund two summers. Although there was no big check presentation on Friday, Kaiser Permanente announced a commitment of $39,750 to the city’s pool season.

“This grant from Kaiser Permanente aims to provide children, adults and seniors in San Bernardino with a safe place to be healthy and active this summer,” explained Gwen Kleist, Kaiser Permanente Senior Communications Specialist. “This began as a social mission to improve the health in the communities we serve.”

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Myra Juarez, a single mother of five boys, expressed her appreciation of the new (5,000-square-foot) shaded area where she can escape the heat while her children enjoy the pool.

“I stopped bringing my kids because it would get too hot out here,” she said. “For us to be able to use the pool for free is great because there are a lot of low-income families in the area, and single parents like me, who have a place to bring our kids over the summer.”

The pool is now open daily.

Perris Hill Park recently received a new playground structure on May 19. According to Parks and Recreation Director Jim Tickemyer improvements to the city’s public spaces have been ranked in order of need.

“When facilities are well maintained it will be more appealing and draw more family activity into our parks,” Tickemyer said. “Our target audience is the family.”

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