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The Skanner News
Published: 22 April 2013

This summer Portland Parks and Recreation wants to make sure everyone can have fun in the water, and also stay safe. From swim lessons and summer jobs for teen lifeguards to Dive-In movies, teen nights and Water Safety Day, Summer 2013 has a lot to offer.

May is water safety month, says Adam  McGowan, aquatics coordinator for Portland Parks. Teams from the Parks department go to schools to teach safety tips to first graders, Mcgowan says, along with water safety mascot Wader Gator.

The Oregon Zoo will hold the annual Safe Kids Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 4. For the cost of admission, children can visit 12 safety stations and learn about everything from road safety and gun safety to water safety. Youth who answer questions at all 12 stations win a prize.

Later in the month comes Water Safety Day, held this month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 31 at the East Portland Community Center. Aimed at youth from 6 to 15 years old, and their parents, the event offers fun activities that also teach you how to be safe when you're around water.  

Portland Parks offers free swim lessons to around 2,000 children every year. Parents can sign up for the free lessons from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. June 15 at any Portland pool. It's first-come first-served and you need to register in person. Free classes are held from June 18 to June 21.

For the rest of the summer, lessons will run in two-week blocks. If you miss the free week and can't afford the $52.50 fee for the classes, you can apply for a financial aid scholarship at any Portland pool.

Every pool has a free open swim each week as well as offering teen nights, and during August, Dive-In movies. This year's movie will be The Lorax.

Teens interested in working as a lifeguard or swim instructor this summer, need to complete the lifeguard's training. The City hires more than 700 lifeguards every summer to keep swimmers safe.  You need to be a strong swimmer and be able to complete the required training. The trainings are almost done for this year, so sign up soon. Check out the class schedule at Portland Parks website aquatic training.

Learning to swim saves lives. More than 3,500 people die in accidental drownings every year. And according to national statistics, African Americans are at higher risk. Black children aged 5 to 14 are almost three times more likely to drown than their White peers. But it doesn't have to be this way. Parents can learn how to keep babies and toddlers safe. And everyone can learn to swim and be safe around water.

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