The American Red Cross has been awarded a $45,000 grant by an anonymous donor to sponsor an aquatics program with the Jersey City Recreation Department. The grant will support free Red Cross Learn-to-Swim courses for 750 Jersey City children, 50 Lifeguard Training scholarships and 30 Water Safety Instructor scholarships, which will train individuals to be able to instruct Red Cross Learn-to-Swim courses at the Jersey City Recreation Center.
“The Red Cross recognizes the importance of water safety,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Whether you are at a pool or one of New Jersey’s many beaches and lakes, it is important that children have the knowledge and skills they need to be safe in and around the water. We are happy that this grant will enable Jersey City children to receive potentially lifesaving water safety and swim instruction.”
The Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program is designed for children over 6 years of age. Students progress through the course levels at their own pace, mastering the skills in one level before advancing to the next. Each level of the Learn-to-Swim course includes training in basic water safety and helping others in an emergency, in addition to stroke development.
"Jersey City has a robust swimming program that offers city youth both learn to swim and water safety instruction, as well as more advanced classes for swimmers and lifeguards," said Mayor Steven M. Fulop of Jersey City. "This grant will allow us to reach even more children and teach them lifesaving swimming skills that are so important and often go unmet in urban areas."
To aid their ability to teach Red Cross Learn-to-Swim courses to 750 children, the Jersey City Recreation Center has been training Water Safety Instructors through scholarships provided by the grant.
“Being a swim instructor will help me make a positive influence on children’s lives,” explained Taylor, a Water Safety Instructor scholarship recipient. “There is no better feeling in the world than being able to teach someone something they will never forget. With this certification I will make in imprint on my students’ lives and teach them a life skill that everyone should know.”
The Lifeguard scholarships are open to individuals 15 years of age or older to receive training necessary to meet certain swimming requirements. Through videos, group discussion and hands-on practice, individuals will learn teamwork, rescue and surveillance skills, first aid, CPR/AED and other skills needed to work as a professional lifeguard. Successful completion of the course results in a 2-year certification in Lifeguarding that includes first aid, professional-level CPR and AED in one certificate. Lifeguard certification provides the necessary training for those interested in working as a lifeguard as a summer job or as a career.
“Having the opportunity to be a lifeguard will allow me to be a part of my community and the skills I acquire will allow me to save lives,” said Nancy, who received one of the grant-funded Lifeguard scholarships. “This is a great learning experience and opportunity to spend my time giving back to my community.”
The grant is made possible thanks to an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation of New Jersey.
To learn more about the training opportunities and register for a free Red Cross Learn-to-Swim course with the Jersey City Recreation Department, visit jerseycitynj.gov/swimming/sprinklers or call 201-547-5003.
To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or visit redcross.org/TakeAClass.