BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Bend Park and Recreation District has a new short film documentary about its Family Swim Lessons in Spanish program that coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month. “Rompiendo Patrones / Disrupting Patterns” is a 12-minute short film that debuted at the Vámonos al Cine Latinos Film Fest on Saturday, as part of Welcoming Week.
The documentary follows Latino families who have participated in the Family Swim Lessons in Spanish. The family swim program was created in 2018 as a collaboration between the BPRD Aquatics team and the Outreach team who focus on reaching historically underserved community members to build trust and awareness of BPRD programs and opportunities. The team includes a Latino outreach specialist, Kathya Avila Choquez, who appears in the film.
The film includes interviews with mothers who share how cultural differences and generational transferring of fear of the water contributed to their own feelings about water and swimming. With BPRD staff support and the unique program’s approach to teaching parents and children to swim simultaneously, families have gained life-saving swim skills and quality time.
“I have learned so much with these swim lessons: how some families feel coming into our facilities, why mom only watched their kids from the pool deck wishing one day they could swim, and how much excitement teaching the lesson brought to our swim instructors who were willing to overcome language barriers,” said Avila Choquez.
“We appreciate that families trust our organization to initiate their learning process experience in the water, and that BPRD recognizes the importance of offering cultural relevant swim lessons for Latino families, creating a program that feels safer and welcoming space during family swim lessons,” she added.
To date, there have been 31 family swim in Spanish sessions with 105 families as participants. The team would like to continue and expand the program when possible. Bilingual swim instructors and lifeguard positions are available now and potential employees are encouraged to apply.
BPRD prioritizes outreach to historically underrepresented community members by developing community connections, building trust, fostering awareness of opportunities available to the community and providing translation and interpretation services. The team also removes barriers to participation with a robust scholarship program and transportation service when possible.
“Our team is committed to showing up for the families in this community on a consistent basis. Seeing families enrolled in programs, thriving and watching those families grow together is the ultimate reward,” said Jenny McGee, BPRD outreach supervisor. “Their stories can resonate across many differences and that’s an immense motivator to our work.”
BPRD’s outreach team will present the film and information about the family swim program at the National Recreation and Parks Association conference in October and at the Oregon Recreation and Parks Association conference in November. The session topic was selected in competitive processes, representing its quality in the profession and opportunity to inform other communities to start similar programs.
“We regularly survey the community to ensure our priorities are aligned with where the community wants us to focus time and resources, and it’s rewarding to see the progress of Outreach’s efforts to serve the community,” said Matt Mercer, recreation services director. “Seeing the trust built captured in film is wonderful and I hope it inspires others to try a program like our family swim lessons.”