2022 Grants Challenge

Lifeguard Days: Access to Water Activities and Readiness Education

The LA2050 grant will support the Access to Water Activities and Readiness Education (A.W.A.R.E.) Program for youth in the County of Los Angeles. The Program’s goal is to inspire and mentor youth through the avenue of lifeguarding and provide equitable access to aquatic activities and drowning prevention for all Los Angeles County Residents.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Community Safety

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

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In the US there are an estimated 3,960 fatal drownings and 8,080 nonfatal drownings each year. Drowning is often fast, silent, and can only take 20-60 seconds to occur. Although anyone can drown, drowning is a leading cause of death for children. In the US, more children aged 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects (CDC). In Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Fire Department Ocean Lifeguards made 9,286 ocean rescues and 898,913 preventative actions moving swimmers to safer areas and out of danger in 2021. These statistics are alarming and indicate that drowning is a possibility in our communities today. Drowning, however, is a public health and safety issue that can be prevented! With proper tools, resources, and education the public can take appropriate steps to keep themselves safe when around bodies of water. The A.W.A.R.E. Program aims to provide all County residents with readiness education and equitable access to safe water activities.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The LA2050 grant will support funding of 5 A.W.A.R.E. Program Lifeguard Days throughout the County of Los Angeles. The A.W.A.R.E. Program provides equitable access to water activities and readiness education to youth in underserved communities throughout the County of Los Angeles. Each Lifeguard Day participant will be instructed on water safety and drowning prevention. The funding will be utilized to host 2 events at the beach and 3 events at pools. Swimming ability is not required and groups will be created based on skill and age level. During each event, participants will learn: how to swim around a buoy, rescue board techniques, rescue can/tube utilization, basic first aid, and sidewalk CPR. Instructors will also mentor participants for the Junior Lifeguard swim test, and educate parents on financial aid and transportation opportunities for the multiple aquatic programs that the County offers. LA2050 funding will also allow the department to incorporate a new rotation into Lifeguard Day that highlights the use of technical search unit tools (drones, underwater recovery robots) to encourage youth STEAM education. Furthermore, LA2050 funding will allow the A.W.A.R.E. Program to expand and educate participant families and community members on sidewalk CPR and basic first aid. Although children are the most at risk for drowning, it can happen to anyone and therefore expanding education to the public on these skills will help save lives.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

A.W.A.R.E. is an existing, successful program that educates youth on drowning prevention, sidewalk CPR and first aid. A.W.A.R.E. is unique in that it forms partnerships within the aquatic community that strive to provide accessible pathways into multiple programs that the County offers. Lifeguard Days provide an equal opportunity to all youth regardless of ability or skill level. A.W.A.R.E. is also unique in that it provides coaching for participants to test for the Junior Lifeguard Program. Through A.W.A.R.E. Program mentorship, a bridge between Los Angeles County’s pools, lakes, and beaches is formed. Families are educated on transportation and financial aid, which provide additional resources and opportunities for families in disadvantaged communities to enroll their children in Junior Lifeguards. The Junior Lifeguard Program provides students with advanced ocean safety and lifesaving techniques; and often serves as a career development pathway to becoming an Ocean Lifeguard.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

The Los Angeles County, Lifeguard Division protects 72 miles of coastline, including 31 miles of sandy beaches and Catalina Island. In 2019, estimated beach attendance was 50,697,049 visitors. A.W.A.R.E. provides an opportunity for the department to reach out to community members, specifically youth, and educate them on ocean safety and water awareness. Early exposure and education in a controlled environment can help save lives, especially as children are at high risk for drowning. Further success of A.W.A.R.E. Lifeguard Days is measured by participant enrollment into the Junior Lifeguard Program. Transportation to the beach from communities in which A.W.A.R.E. events are held; and financial aid, both provide equal opportunities for youth to participate in all programs that the County offers. Through A.W.A.R.E. and Junior Lifeguards, youth are provided with career pathway programs forming the future leaders of tomorrow.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 1,000