The West Cook YMCA has long been known for its on-site swimming programs, and in keeping with the long-standing tradition of teaching generations to swim, the West Cook YMCA has partnered with Maywood’s Fred Hampton Aquatic Center to bring water safety skills to one of its core communities. Since the partnership began, summer attendance at the pool has grown nearly tenfold, with an increase from 950 visitors in 2013 to over 9,100 the summer of 2017.
Kyle Sandine, Director of Aquatics and Quality Assurance says the Aquatic Center has become an integral part of the summer in Maywood through the partnership with the Y and provides much-needed recreational space. “This is the only pool in Maywood that I’m aware of. It’s a real community asset. Having a recreational facility is key to community. We want to continue our efforts to make sure people know it’s a safe place to go.”
With a goal this summer of welcoming 11,000 guests to the pool, Sandine says one of the Y’s important roles is providing an annual Safety Around Water program at the pool. The eight week program serves preschool-aged children through adults and aims to bridge the gap between non-swimmers and those prepared for swimming lessons. The focus of the program is on building comfort in the water and viewing the water as a fun place to be. Through two-week sessions, that meet for eight times, participants will be able to experience the water in a non-threatening way.
The West Cook YMCA also partners with Proviso East High School in lifeguard certification classes. The classes, which meet seasonally at the high school, enable students to become certified life guards during the school day. Sandine says the program builds a pipeline, allowing students who live in Maywood to work in Maywood.
At the end of the day, the West Cook YMCA’s partnership with the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center and Proviso East makes the pool a useful asset for the community. Sandine sums up the positive influence the pool has on the community, “We are making the pool a safe, quality place that people can rely on. In this under-resourced, diverse community, the pool provides residents an opportunity they might not otherwise have to gain skills and comfort in the water while also having a fun and safe time.”