LOS ANGELES — Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash officially kicked off at Stoner Park pool in West Los Angeles by celebrating the joy and unparalleled spirit of Special Olympics athletes who take to city pools with the dream of competing in Special Olympic events.
Kaiser Permanente is providing a $265,000 grant to the Department of Recreation and Parks Aquatics Division to promote physical activity among city residents. Operation Splash, now in its ninth year, is a free summer program that teaches children and adults in low-income areas to swim.
Thirteen-year-old Ariel Revivo’s swimming really took off when she joined the Special Olympics swim team through the City of Los Angeles. The city offers the program for persons with mental disabilities, giving them an opportunity to compete in Special Olympic events. Revivo has won several medals, including one from the 2012 Special Olympics Summer Games. “My favorite is freestyle. I like to swim because it makes me feel free, when I close my eyes it’s like being in the ocean,” she said.
This 7th grader has overcome incredible odds. She is autistic and was born with hip dysplasia. At the age of 1, Revivo wore a full body cast for an entire year. As a result, she did not learn to crawl or walk, like most toddlers. Even after surgery and physical therapy Revivo had problems balancing. It was not until she joined the city’s Special Olympics swim program about three years ago that she became more mobile and started building muscle.
“Swimming helps me get stronger and lose weight. I like to tell people, don’t be afraid, you’ll be fine, just do it,” added Revivo. This summer she will apply for an Operation Splash scholarship to continue her lessons.
“Kaiser Permanente recognizes that total health involves body, mind and spirit. Operation Splash exemplifies everything Kaiser Permanente stands for: embracing diversity, promoting physical activity, helping in the fight against childhood and adult obesity and strengthening the overall health of our communities,” said Benjamin Chu, MD, MPH, MACP, group president for Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Hawaii. “We are committed to making total health accessible to everyone.”
In 2015, the Special Olympics World Summer Games will come to Los Angeles and Kaiser Permanente will proudly serve as a founding champion and total health partner.
“Operation Splash makes a big difference by offering active learning and exercise opportunities to our city’s youngest residents,” said Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles. “This is about strengthening our communities while supporting a worthy cause.”
Kaiser Permanente’s Operation Splash grant will underwrite swim lessons for about 6,000 children, teens and adults at 33 pools across Los Angeles; provide junior lifeguard scholarships for 780 youth at 46 sites; and increase participation in the Rethink Your Drink Campaign, which raises awareness about sugary beverages and their contribution to the obesity epidemic.
“The hard work, dedication and funding support that Kaiser Permanente and the LA84 Foundation have provided in support of our Aquatics Program are nothing short of amazing. Operation Splash has positively impacted the City of Los Angeles, offering free summer swim programs for the community, as well as constant education and awareness regarding healthier lifestyles. The City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks is extremely thankful to Kaiser Permanente and LA84 for their contributions in helping make our city healthier and more physically safe. We look forward to our continued partnership,” said Michael A. Shull, general manager, Department of Recreation and Parks.
“For 28 years, the LA84 Foundation has provided funding to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks to provide swimming lessons and to give youngsters the opportunity to participate in season-ending festivals in swimming, synchronized swimming, diving and water polo. We are pleased to join Kaiser Permanente in ensuring that youngsters are water safe,” said Patrick Escobar, vice president of grants and programs, LA84 Foundation.
Since the inception of Operation Splash in 2006, Kaiser Permanente’s financial commitment, funded as a Community Benefit program, has grown to more than $4.8 million.
Operation Splash is part of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating, Active Living (known as HEAL) efforts to reduce obesity in the community by increasing opportunities for safe physical activity and access to healthy and affordable foods. For the seventh year, Kaiser Permanente has expanded Operation Splash to areas outside of Los Angeles where health disparities are greatest and opportunities for safe physical activity are often scarce, bringing its total pledge in 2014, to $530,000.
Additional Operation Splash grants in 2014 include:
- City of San Bernardino, Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, San Bernardino: $30,000
- City of Riverside, Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, Riverside: $55,000
- Desert Recreation District, Coachella Valley Recreation and Park District, Indio: $55,000
- North of the River Recreation and Park District, Bakersfield: $35,000
- City of Ventura, Community Services Department, Ventura: $35,000
- Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation, Chula Vista: $55,000
Please visit the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks’ website at www.laparks.org, or call 323-906-7953 for information about participating pools in the area.
About the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Aquatics Division
The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Department, Aquatics Division offers families and community members many healthy, affordable and safe aquatic activities at their public pools, lakes, and beaches. Recreation and Parks oversees 61 swimming pools, 11 lakes, and two beaches. For more information please visit www.laparks.org.
About the LA84 Foundation
The LA84 Foundation was established to manage Southern California’s share of the surplus from the successful 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Foundation received $93 million at its inception. Since it began operations in 1985, it has invested $214 million in sports programs serving more than 3 million youth in the eight Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura. It is headquartered in the historic Britt House near Downtown Los Angeles where it houses the world’s premier sports library and meeting facilities. The Foundation provides grants to youth sports organizations, manages programs, including a coaching education program, and convenes numerous forums for the exploration of the most pressing issues in sport. For more information, please visit www.LA84.org.
About Kaiser Permanente Southern California
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 3.7 million members in Southern California. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/share.