Tag: Fred Hampton Aquatic Center

West Cook YMCA Wants To Make Fred Hampton Pool A Destination Point

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

During a regular meeting on Feb. 20, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to authorize an agreement between the village and the West Cook YMCA to jointly operate the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center, 300 Oak St. in Maywood, during the summer.

Continue reading “West Cook YMCA Wants To Make Fred Hampton Pool A Destination Point”

Fred Hampton Pool Officially Opens and Proviso East Lifeguards Start Work

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Newly installed lifeguards at Fred Hampton Aquatic Center prepare for a photograph with Maywood and Proviso East officials on June 12. | Michael Romain/VFP

Haptom Pool IIMonday, June 12, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a short ceremony held outside of the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center, 300 Oak St. in Maywood on June 12, a crowd of at least 300 people witnessed six lifeguards receive their official life guard shirt and sunglasses from the West Cook YMCA — the Oak Park-based nonprofit that operates and maintains the aquatic center.

According to YMCA officials, by late afternoon more than 550 people had cycled through the center’s turnstiles to enjoy the pool on its grand opening day. 

The scene was particularly special to community members because the lifeguards were trained inside of the swimming pool at Proviso East High School in Maywood.

The Red Cross-certified, 5-week training program that was facilitated by West Cook resulted in the revival of the high school’s pool and may have been the catalyst for what high school officials hope will be regular swimming courses at the school starting next year.

West Cook staff members maintain the pool during the summers, with the village of Maywood sharing half the operating costs with the nonprofit organization. This year was the first time that West Cook collaborated with Proviso East to help train lifeguards from within Maywood and surrounding Proviso Township communities.

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From left: Maywood Trustees Kimyada Wellington and Isiah Brandon, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, West Cook YMCA President & CEO Phillip Jimenez, Maywood Trustee Henderson Yarbrough, Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet and Maywood Trustee Antonio Sanchez. | Michael Romain/VFP

In the past, most lifeguards who worked at Fred Hampton were from other areas due to a dearth of well-trained local young people. The swimming classes at East, West Cook officials have said, worked to fill that void.

“This collaboration is a true example of the impact that can be made when organizations come together and add value to our community,” said Kevin Klein, the West Cook YMCA’s chief operating officer, during the June 12 opening ceremony.

Klein said that he anticipates this pool summer to be the biggest since West Cook since 2011, when West Cook started operating the pool.

“In 2014, we had 1,300 people visit the pool. Last year, the number increased to 4,000 visits. And just last summer, we had as many as 9,000 guest experiences,” Klein said. “Our goal this year is to break into five digits. We want 10,000 guest experiences here at the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center.”

“Fred fought hard for this pool to be in the community,” said Bill Hampton, the brother of the slain Black Panther after whom the pool is named. “We can make this a monument not just to swimming but how to how we got it and how we can keep it well.”

Hampton Pool IV

Bill Hampton, second from right, with Maywood Library Trustee John Rice and other members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which held a small vigil for slain Black Panther leader and the pool’s namesake earlier in the day. | Michael Romain/VFP

Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet said that the pool is an example of the kind of fusion that’s necessary to make a healthy community work — a sentiment that Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins reinforced.

“It can be done and it will take all of us to do it,” Perkins said, before Norfleet praised the parts that “the board, mayor, employees, parents, residents and taxpayers” played in the pool’s existence.

“As long as this park area is green, clean and safe, the people will come,” Norfleet said. “Take away one of those ingredients, the people won’t be here. This is a testimony of the will of the village council and the work of the employees so that we can have this place green, clean and safe.”

The Fred Hampton Aquatic Center, 300 Oak St. in Maywood, is open daily, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., from June 12 until September 4. For more info and/or to buy passes, click hereVFP

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The YMCA Taught Hundreds How to Swim at Maywood Pool Last Year — Including a Former Mayor

Children play in pool

Children having fun inside of the Fred Hampton Pool. | File

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

It’s never too late to learn.

Last year, at 74 years old, former mayor and sitting trustee Henderson Yarbrough learned how to swim after taking advantage of the West Cook YMCA’s offer to provide lessons inside of the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center, located at 300 Fred Hampton Way and which the YMCA has operated since 2011.  

In 2012, the pool closed for repairs before reopening in 2013. In 2014, the YMCA entered into a joint revenue-sharing agreement with the village, with each entity contributing to roughly half of the costs of operating and maintaining the pool. 

“When I was growing up in the South, almost all of my friends could swim except for me,” Yarbrough recalled during an interview on Wednesday.

“I was the fastest runner in the group,” he said. “We learned how to swim by people just taking us and throwing us into the lake. There were no swimming pools. We just had ponds and lakes. I never got tossed into the lake, so I never learned.”

Yarbrough was among 248 people, both swimmers and non-swimmers, who participated in the West Cook YMCA’s four-week lessons that met twice a week last year in July and August. They practiced floating, putting their faces in the water, safety protocols, kicking and other skills.

“When the YMCA approached the village with the opportunity, I figured, ‘Hey, why not?’ It wasn’t hard at all,” Yarbrough said of the lessons. “It’s the fear. Once you get over the fear, the rest is just a matter of executing.”

For Kim Polk, the West Cook YMCA’s aquatics director and Yarbrough’s instructor, a summer swimming lesson could mean survival for some people.

According to West Cook YMCA officials, on average, two children each day drown accidentally in the United States. Seventy percent of African-Americans, and 60 percent of Latinos, have little or no swimming ability. 

“We’re trying to teach a life skill,” she said during a Wednesday Legal, License and Ordinance Committee meeting in Maywood, where she and West Cook YMCA [CEO Phil Jimenez] approached the Maywood Board of Trustees with a partnership agreement for the upcoming 2017 season.

“We’re focusing on safety in and out of the water, so not only are you learning a life skill, you’re learning how to be safe and how to save someone if there’s an incident,” she said.

Polk added that 76 percent of the 248 participants were between the ages of 3 and 11 years old. By the time the lessons ended, virtually all of them learned to swim or strengthened the swimming abilities they already had.

In a memo, West Cook YMCA officials said that all of the Maywood trustees “took advantage of the lessons” and were able to swim “from one end of the pool to another in the deep diving well” by the time the lessons were over.

Overall, said Jimenez, last year’s season was the most successful since the YMCA and Maywood began jointly operating the pool in 2014. That year, the Fred Hampton pool served 1,300 people.

“Last year, we served [over 9,400] individuals,” Jimenez said. “In two years, our partnership has significantly profited in terms of the goodwill that we’re building in the village community and just in memories. We believe that if positive memories are being built on a consistent basis, the likelihood of a person growing up and having positive development is much greater.”

In 2015, according to the memo, the pool served 4,700 guests. That year, the YMCA sold 10 passes. In 2016, the organization sold 54 passes.

Jimenez attributed the over 600 percent increase in pool attendance over two years to an aggressive marketing push his organization implemented in the months leading up to last season.

That awareness initiative included direct mailing more than 3,000 residents in Maywood and Melrose Park, conducting personal phone calls to targeted households in those communities and instilling informational banners throughout the area, among other actions.

The West Cook YMCA also partnered with numerous community organizations and businesses, such as Maywood Fine Arts and Margery Daw Daycare.

Jimenez said that the spike in attendance was also due to good weather. The pool was closed for only 11 out 84 operating days — or just 13 percent of the season, compared to a 25 percent close rate in 2015.

This year, West Cook is recommending the village increase its spending on the pool from $48,000 last year to $60,000 this year in order to pay for additional staffers to handle the increase in pool users. Last year, the pool was over budget by $21,000 because of the surge in attendance.

Jimenez said that his organization is also in talks with Proviso East High School to develop a partnership that could result in up to 30 local hires for the upcoming season, which will run from June 12 until Sept. 4.

“We are literally a signature away from partnering with them to certify lifeguards out of Proviso East,” he said, adding that 33 students at the high school have expressed interest in the jobs.

The students would have to meet a number of prerequisites before getting hired, Jimenez said, but once they pass the test, they will get top priority in the application process.

“We have the potential to hire between 10 and 30 lifeguards,” Jimenez said, before qualifying that 30 is “a high number.” This year, as with last year, the pool staff will offer complimentary swimming lessons.

The village board voted unanimously to send the agreement to the next regular board meeting to be voted on. VFP

For more info about the Fred Hampton Aquatics Center, including prices and hours of operation, click here.

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