2016 Grants Challenge

Ocean Heroes - Saving Lives Daily as a Water Rescuer

Open Water Junior Lifeguard Program provides professional lifeguard instruction to youth in water safety and physical conditioning as an introduction to a potential career choice as water rescuers.


Please describe your project proposal.

Geared for youth ages 9-17, the Open Water Junior Lifeguard Program operates during the summer at two open water locations within the City. Taught by certified lifeguards, our Program is competitive and rigorous providing instruction in physical conditioning, competition skills and the use of professional lifesaving equipment. Our Program is designed to educate and impassion youth to appreciate and respect the marine environment and introduce youth to a potential career choice in water safety.

Which of the PLAY metrics will your proposal impact?​

Access to open space and park facilities

Attendance at major league sporting events

Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play

Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities

Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park

Perceived safety

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

San Fernando Valley

South Bay

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to PLAY?

Southern California has a reputation for offering easy beach getaways all summer long. In fact, thousands of youth within Los Angeles never see the beach at all, and a few who are lucky enough to make a trip may actually be more fearful of the waves than ready to surf. The opportunity for youth to play in the ocean, to swim in the waves without fear, and to be able and ready to help someone else in trouble in the water – that is what this amazing program offers. The Open Water Junior Lifeguard Program operates for six weeks during the summer months at two open water locations – Cabrillo Beach (ocean) and Hansen Dam (lake). Each week, the youth are instructed in aquatic skills such as swimming, running and paddling, with the intent of instilling participants with confidence in their abilities in the ocean. Additionally, this program is designed to promote physical development and water safety. Youth are instructed in lifeguarding skills such as effective swim rescues, Community CPR and First Aid. Each week there are conditioning and competitive activities, such as rescue board relays, run-swim-runs, buoy swims, rescue can relays, run relays, and beach flags, with the intent of promoting teamwork ethics culminating to regional and national Junior Lifeguard competitions against other agencies. This grant will subsidize the costs to run this program and allow youth who normally would not be able to get to the ocean, have a summer to be on the beach and in the water, places they otherwise might never enjoy. The youth will be integrated into a program that builds social skills and mutual respect along with healthier bodies and strategies of water rescue, and do it in an environment with quality facilities and friendly, skillful adult instructors. In fact, a major positive element of the program is the student-mentor relationships that blossom, and the interaction of the youth participants with adult staff and the other older adults. The Cabrillo Beach Booster Club made up of retired lifeguards and other lifelong ocean water swimmers take part in organizing the Battle of the Beaches event for our Program. The Cabrillo Beach and Hansen Dam Lake facilities are among the top destinations for RAP year-round, genuinely vibrant facilities that receive extra care because of high public use. (Both facilities offer kayaking and fishing opportunities.) This program also includes field trips to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium located within walking distance from Cabrillo Beach and a trip to Santa Catalina Island, where youth can learn to appreciate and respect the marine environment first-hand. Most important in this program is the basic objective of teaching children to be safe in the water, to be able to rescue themselves and to immediately and confidently rescue others as well, making any beach or body of water safer for all in Los Angeles just by their presence. The Open Water Junior Lifeguard Program makes LA the best place to Play.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Our work will be evaluated based on the success of the participants. RAP Aquatic instructors create a curriculum prior to the beginning of the program based on the United States Lifesaving Association, which is the governing body for all open water programs/agencies. RAP's program is divided into four age groups: 9-11/12-13/14-15/16-17. Staff set the same goals for all the different age groups. For instance, during the first year, the goals set for the younger group is to ensure water confidence in the surf and open water environment. By the end of the summer, all junior guards are to be confident in the following: Open water swim in ocean/lakes, Long distance swim and run, Run/swim/run time trials, Basic CPR-First Aid-swim rescues, and Competitiveness at meets with other open water agencies. Although each of our participants attend the California Surf Lifesaving Association regional event at the end of the summer, RAP identifies the strongest youth from our program to compete with over 40 Junior Lifeguard Agencies. The top five winners of each event move on to represent California and their respective agency at the United States Lifesaving Association - National Lifeguard competition. RAP has success stories of our participants winning Nationals. On the heels of these success stories, one of the outcomes of our Program besides life skills and conditioning is to also be a feeder into RAP's Lifeguard program. Many generations of our lifeguards began as Junior Lifeguards.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?



Community outreach