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If You're A Young Person Of Color, LA County Wants To Train You To Become A Lifeguard

A public swimming pool in San Pedro with 10 lanes.
The new pilot program will be completely free for kids and they will automatically be eligible to go into the county's formal lifeguard training program.
(JuanCarlos Chan
Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks)
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L.A. County's Parks and Recreation Department just launched a new, free program aimed at training youth of color for jobs as pool lifeguards.

Up to 360 recruits will be selected for one of six three-week sessions, which will train them to swim and teach them the rescue skills they'll need to be lifeguards.

`Once they pass through that training, they'll automatically be eligible to go into the county's formal lifeguard training program — which is a paid position. The program will also provide free swim suits, swim caps and Metro passes.

Norma Garcia, the director of the county's parks department, hopes this program will help remove barriers for kids who have historically been cut off from swimming.

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One of the reasons I didn't learn how to swim was because of how expensive swimming lessons were. And so this program is really designed to remove those barriers for the most vulnerable youth to develop a relationship with water, get into the water, and build that skillset.
— Norma Garcia, director of L.A. County parks

Garcia and other county officials also expressed hope that the program will encourage youth of color to consider other career paths as first responders, particularly within the county's fire department — which has struggled to recruit and retain non-white candidates.

The program is open to those ages 16 to 24, with young people from South and East L.A. — including those in foster care — especially encouraged to apply. For more information on application, visit L.A. County's site here.

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