Moosomin rec department offering family pool passes for those in need
July 14, 2020, 10:13 am
Rob Paul Local, Journalism Initiative Reporter
With summer here and the Prairie sun beating down relentlessly all hours of the day, it’s the perfect time to utilize a swimming pool.
Covid-19 has put people across Canada in an unprecedented situation and it’s been a cause for major financial impacts on families, but Saskatchewan is beginning to find some normalcy as it opens up.
Although things are getting back to normal in everyday life, Covid-19 has put some families in a tough situation with children who want to participate in recreation, but at times fun can be costly.
With the pool open and busy—while following Covid-19 protocols—Moosomin Rec Director Mike Schwean understands that some families might be in a difficult spot this summer.
With that in mind he applied and received $10,000 in funding for families in the community who were financially hit by Covid-19 and are unable to afford pool fees.
The funding will go to 40 family pool passes to be given out free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Everything will be confidential with no questions asked upon getting in contact with Schwean for a family pass.
“We’ve accessed $10,000 through a grant program,” he said.
“Our season passes are $250 so we’ll give out 40 season passes. The way we’ll do it is we’ll have people contact our rec office and there won’t be any questions asked.
“It’s all confidential. It’s a program meant to help people who are economically hit by Covid-19 and unable to afford the cost of the pool passes. We’ll give them the pass and let the pool staff know and they can carry on with their summer at the pool.”
“I’m hoping we go through them and they get used. If we don’t use them the money goes back so there’s no value in not using them. I’m hoping by next week at least half of them are gone.”
Although being a resident of Moosomin isn’t needed to be eligible for the free family pass, Schwean hopes that families who do get a pass truly take advantage of the opportunity.
“They don’t have to be Moosomin residents,” he said.
“We just hope whoever would access it would be at the pool a lot. It would be unfortunate if someone grabbed one and only used it once this summer. But it is first-come, first-served and we want to get them out as quick as we can. It’s an opportunity for 200 people or so to use the pool that might not have been able to.”
The funding was to help with recreation opportunities for families impacted by Covid-19 related financial issues and Schwean thought putting it towards the pool was the obvious choice.
“It was something that came across our office,” he said.
“It wasn’t anything to do with pools, it was just dealing with Covid-19 and community strategies to help people deal with it. When I looked at it I thought there was limited things you could do with kids.
“Our department tends to look at kids first and the pool was obviously a good spot. We applied and they thought it was a good idea and it went quickly.”
“When it came up, there was nothing really else I could think of that we could use it for. I know kids love the pool. I think if I had 10 things to choose from, I probably would have chosen the pool anyway. To me it’s the most unstructured and fun atmosphere they have all year.”
This program is all about giving kids an opportunity for summer fun that they may not have been able to have previously, says Schwean.
“The problem with families, sometimes, that can’t afford stuff,” he said. “Is they’re often not visible, but I think there are some who might need this. It’s $250 for a family pass, and I think there are some people who could use some help and this is a fantastic opportunity.”
“We would dearly love to see these used in the community so kids can all have the opportunity to access the pool.”
“If you know someone who could use the help, please get ahold of them and let them know just to contact us or stop in at the town office,” he said. “It’s quick and simple, within five minutes of coming in they’d be able to use the pool. It’s a good program and it’s a great pool.
“There’s no shame in needing something like this and it’s important to help the kids be kids. There are probably people out there every year that can’t afford it, but this year in particular and I’m excited to help some kids enjoy the pool.”
Learn to Swim program for new Canadians
On top of the free family pool passes, Schwean wants to further help people access the pool with a Learn to Swim program for new Canadians. It’s a free swimming lessons program for both youth and adults that will be on a first-come, first-served basis for new Canadians.
Schwean wants to give new Canadians who may not have previously felt comfortable in a swimming environment an opportunity to ease their way into it. He received a grant for the program from the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association.
“This was something, pre-Covid-19, that we applied for and got approved for,” he said. “When we do programs in facilities, especially the ones we run, we mark and target who’s there and who’s not there. In my experience it hasn’t been accessed as much as I’d like by our Filipino community and other new Canadians.
“This was something we thought would be a good opportunity to have them come use the pool and try it out.
“We can do adults and youth with four staff members there. We want them to come try it with their families. If they enjoy it, that’s great and if it’s not their thing then at least they had an opportunity to do it and give it a try.”
For people who are newer to Canada, a public swimming pool might not be a place they feel the most comfortable, says Schwean, so he wanted to give them an opportunity to have an introduction to it.
“It’s an opportunity for them to try out our pool,” he said. “For this they can go down to the pool and register for it. It’s August 10-14 and we can take up to 30 people.
“We want to give them the opportunity to try it first because it’s expensive. Like anything else, it can be intimidating and expensive to do swimming lessons if you don’t know if the kids will like it. It’s intimidating to go to public swim, too, because the pool’s full.
“It’s not meant to isolate them, but to give them an opportunity to try it in a less intimating atmosphere. Hopefully they use it and it goes well.”