A for Athlete

Email to Liz Styles on May 26, 2009, from Mark Rauterkus[]

Hi Liz,

If we are to get the Weed & Seed program working in the West End, we are going to need to do a good deal of outreach. Have no fear, I'm capable of doing this. But, I need the permission and cooperation of those at Citiparks / Aquatics Division.

I know if I ask -- I'll be denied. I've asked in the past for access to do special events -- and was denied. Since the year 2000, I was NOT permitted to coach my son in swimming at a Citipark Swim Pool, even as an unpaid volunteer -- even when I've been certified and accredited as swim coach w Coaches Association, etc. So, this is for YOU to talk with reason to the powers that be.

Here is a draft letter that you might send along seeking the "permission."

Furthermore, there are TWO major components of this "ASK" in the works. One part is to go to a public pool in public time and to lead a one-time special event in part of the facility. The other part is to go to a public pool in public time and to lead an on-going event in part of the facility. This second part is part of an endeavor that is brewing with those in The Hill District with respect to Amman Pool / Rec Center and the Ozanam Program. That is NOT a Weed & Seed element -- exactly, However, there are plenty of cooperative factors with Weed & Seed. As I get people going to The Hill District to swim -- these could also be from the Weed & Seed district. And, as kids in the Hill get into water polo -- or want to swim some more, they could join our programs in the Weed & Seed areas and be paying participants. Furthermore, I'll be much more successful getting grants to do aquatic programming that span around the city -- not just in one neighborhood. Our cornerstone is in the Weed & Seed area in the West End, but doing other sessions at Highland Park Pool, and in The Hill District -- for examples -- would be pleasing to many benefactors. As a bigger package, we'll have more success with larger grants and make more community impacts.

Dear Mayor,

Pittsburgh is fortunate to have a number of city run programs that visit various neighborhoods and park settings throughout the year. These include the Roving Art Cart, Movies in the Parks, and even running clinics for the Marathons as well as various road races in various neighborhoods (Brookline Breeze, Great Race, etc.). Pittsburgh can, and should, allow for the same type of short term experience with AQUATICS. This request for permission for ROVING AQUATICS EXPERIENCES / Clnics are designed to deliver a number of benefits including support for Weed & Seed success, as well as wellness for city kids and even aids to the public health threat of drownings.

Just this weekend a 13 year old boy died in the river. Research proves, with data obtained in part in Pittsburgh, that those of color are three times more likely to drown.

We hope to offer some new recreational programs with Weed & Seed support in the West End at a Pittsburgh Public School facility. One way to attract participation, community support and gain registration for these programs is to visit various swim pools throughout the city in normal hours of operation to host a mini-clinic and demonstration with the kids and families at the swim pool. These clinics / special events can be promoted with signs at the pool and be established with notice of a week in advance. And, the activities can utilize part of the open facility in normal open-swim times. We're looking for swim team and swim lesson athletes, water polo players, underwater hockey participants and even kayakers. These clinics and visits would be from 15 to 60 minutes in duration and not a big impact upon the staff nor patrons to the pools.

The professional staff -- swim coaches -- will conduct the sessions in a corner of the pool.

Games might include relays, butterly drills, racing starts in the deep end, fin kicking, passing the water polo ball, or dry-land discovery of a kayak. Of course we would not put a kayak into the water when swimmers are in the pool. But, we might want to bring a boat to the grass area around the pool to give a visual lesson and attract interest.

So, with your permission, we'd like to have the full cooperation of the aquatics staff at all the facilities so as to make these outreach events a success throughout the summer.

We understand that many of the pools are large enough to accomidate these type of activities and still permit free swims. Moore, Highland Park and Amman Pools are all large and organized play with structured leadership could be easily handled.

There would be no charge to the parcipants nor to the aquatic division for these clinics. The only overhead is posting the signs in advance of the clinics, an announcement or two perhaps with the PA system, and cooperation with the guards so that the designated spaces are available -- i.e., no lap swimmers right in front of a swim lesson area for those 15 minutes.