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June 5, 2018 > Spanish language safety program earns award for Park District

Spanish language safety program earns award for Park District

Submitted By Dave Mason

On March 13, 2018, the East Bay Regional Park District received the Innovative Programming Award from the California Parks & Recreation Society Aquatic Section for its ?Vamos a Aprender? (Let?s Go Learn) water safety program. Located at Del Valle and Shadow Cliffs, the program aims to increase water safety practices and assist Spanish speaking children with life jackets.

Vamos a Aprender was created in 2015 to provide free water safety education to children, ages 7-15 who visited Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore. Bilingual lifeguards provide participants with a 45-minute water safety program in Spanish, teaching basic water safety with a focus on proper life jacket usage.

?The program began with a focus on the Spanish-speaking population that visits Lake Del Valle on peak summer season weekends,? said Park District Aquatic Manager Pete DeQuincy. ?We realized we had a lot of patrons visiting the park who were not water confident, and this helped us address that.?

Funded by the Regional Park Foundation, Vamos a Aprender provides enthusiastic bilingual lifeguards and a professional training area to learn water safety. Participants receive free wristbands, coloring books, and a life jacket.

Lifeguards ask park visitors if their children can participate in a water safety demonstration. They teach best practices around water and explain how to use life jackets. In 2016 600 children participated. In 2017, the program expanded to Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton and 1000 children went through.

?We?ve definitely seen an increase in people using safer water practices and wearing the life jackets we?ve provided,? says DeQuincy. Children also leave with valuable lifesaving safety tips and a lifetime of useful information that can be used at other swimming areas.

?The Park District?s Aquatics Division is very successful in preventing near-drowning incidents at our parks because of creative programming like Vamos a Aprender,? said Dennis Waespi, Board President of East Bay Regional Park District. ?Enjoying your regional parks safely is our priority.?

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