BGCSA Asks for the Community's Help in Reopening Pools for the Summer
As a part of our mission, BGCSA works to promote healthy, active lives for these children and teens. One of most effective ways to keep our members active, especially during the summer months, is in the pool. Since the early 70’s, learning to swim has been an important part of the Club experience for many young people in some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in San Antonio. Our two flagship clubhouses – Calderon on the Westside and the Eastside Clubhouse are home to our two indoor pools.
Both facilities, pools, and the HVAC and plumbing systems supporting the indoor pools are now over 40 years old. The wear and tear of consistent use by thousands of kids has taken its toll on the dated equipment and the pool areas. The pools have undergone major repairs over the years and for the past two years, they have been closed for repairs almost as much as they have been open. The cost of maintenance continued to escalate, finally resulting in the closure of both of the BGCSA pools entirely in March 2019.
Lack of access to a pool and swimming lessons not only impacts the health of young children but also represents a significant risk to their safety outside of the Clubs. According to the CDC, fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes for children 1 to 14 years old. Low-income children and especially children of color are less likely to be good swimmers and are at a dramatically increased risk of drowning. Racial/ethnic disparities in child drowning risks are most disturbing. African American children ages 5-19, for example, who make up 26% of our clubhouse kids, drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. Thousands of children in San Antonio have been able to learn to swim at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio and closing the pools was devastating.
With the help of H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Mondalez International and the Kronskosky Charitable Foundation, BGCSA has been able to completely renovate both the Calderon and Eastside pools, allowing hundreds of members access to instructional, recreational and competitive swimming every year. With the re-opening of the pool, we anticipate once again offering the Michael Phelps IM program which offers swim training and health and wellness units, as well as the ZAC Camp, a drowning prevention program for our youngest beginning swimmers. We also plan to re-establish our Club swim team, the Sting Rays, for competitive swim training during the summers.
As the renovations were being done, we made several unanticipated discoveries with the plumbing in both buildings, resulting in significant increased costs for the project.
We need your support to raise $6,000 to purchase important safety equipment for both pools. Will you help us reopen both Olympic size pools in time for summer and get children on the west side and east side swimming safely again?