The programming and design of the Belmont Beach Aquatic Center excludes underserved families and their children. Nationally, these same families face the highest rates of child drownings. Neither of these features best reflect the City or the spirit of a world-class recreation center.
Segregated recreation has a legacy in American cities. The original Belmont Pool opened the same year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, 1968. Civil Rights campaigns to desegregate public pools across the country were cornerstones of the movement. Once desegregated, cities exploited loopholes to bar people of color. Some filled in pools completely. Others created barriers like entry fees and membership clubs. Unfortunately, Long Beach did the latter in 2021.
Long Beach protests sparked by the senseless murder of George Floyd, have shifted our local and national lens. As we reimagine the equity of our systems and institutions, public pools are a space we can both improve and transform.
The dual impacts of poverty and exclusion have contributed to what is now a public safety crisis. For children living so close to the ocean, their inability to swim is a substantial public safety risk.
Also, because the Aquatic Center is designed for the 2028 Olympic Games it will serve as a hub for competitive swimming before and after the Olympics. Just as tennis and golf have seen star athletes of color, Long Beach is uniquely positioned to produce such an athlete due to its diverse population and now world-class facility.
Our schools are our solution!
Partnering with LBUSD we can advance equitable public access to Belmont Beach Aquatic Center.
1) LBUSD creates a k-5 swim curriculum targeting disadvantage schools.
2) BBAC provides transportation and swim lessons.
3) As kids gain skills, they earn full scholarships to participate in Long Beach Jr. Life Guards, and other elite/competitive swim opportunities.