The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has launched its first swimsuit donation drive in hopes of making bathing suits available to low-income families and children of color.
The Park Board is accepting new or gently used adult and children’s swimsuits and burkinis at its headquarters and all of its recreational centers until Labor Day. North Commons, Webber and Jim Lupient water parks will also accept donations. Labeled bins will be at each rec center. Park Board staff will launder the swimsuits before handing them out.
The donated swimsuits will be given to low-income families and children in need as they are available.
Mimi Kalb, the Park Board’s director of aquatics, athletics and ice arenas, said park staff noticed kids coming to the pool without proper swimwear.
“It’s our hope that it helps low-income, diverse families, new immigrants to the city,” she said. “The goal obviously is to reduce the drowning rate overall.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children of color are at the highest risk of fatal drowning.
In March, the Park Board took a step to reduce the drowning rate in communities of color when it broke ground at its first public pool at Phillips Community Aquatics Center in south Minneapolis. The aquatics center is expected to open by early 2018.
To boost participation before then, Kalb said, swimming lessons will be available for $5 for children who get free and reduced-price school lunch. Interested families should contact the Park Board’s aquatics department for registration.