Nearly 400 third graders in Edmonds School District reached with free swimming lessons

By Doug Petrowski

Almost 400 Edmonds School District third-graders have taken advantage of vouchers they received during the school year to enroll in swimming and water safety classes in South Snohomish County, including 132 at the Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion.

Verdant Health Commission, the health and wellness program of Public Hospital District No. 2 that serves South Snohomish County, has made it possible for students to learn to swim for free.

“Our goal is to have every student in the district learn how to swim by the fourth grade,” said George Kosovish, Verdant’s Director of Programs and Community Investment.

The vouchers, handed out to third graders within the Edmonds School District last September, are good for a set of eight to 10 lessons at the Pavilion pool, Yost Pool in Edmonds, or the Lynnwood Recreation Center and Pool. Although they expire at the end of August, the vouchers are still good for the few remaining sessions scheduled at all three pools this summer.

The Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion offers one more session of 10 classes beginning July 30. With two lessons scheduled each week, the session lasts five weeks through the month of August; registration begins July 26.

At Edmonds’ outdoor Yost Pool, two-week sessions consist of four classes (Monday-Thursday) each week. New sessions begin on July 16, July 30 and August 13. Registration for a session is on the prior Friday (register for the July 16-26 session on July 13, register for the July 30-August 9 session on July 27, and register for the August 13-23 session on August 10).

The Lynnwood Recreation Center and Pool has a number of sessions still available this summer, all offering 10 classes in different scheduling frameworks. Registration for the next session, July 17-27, begins on Friday, July 13.

Verdant Health Commission Superintendent Carl Zapora points to the swimming lessons voucher as another example of how they are investing in the hospital district. “We’re contracting with public resources to provide services for the health and well-being of the community,” Zapora said.

The vouchers are a joint effort of Verdant, the Edmonds School District and the Parks and Recreation Departments of Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Edmonds.

Verdant use to be known as the South Snohomish County Commission for Health, and prior to September 2010 it was a branch of a hospital district whose sole goal was the operation of Stevens Hospital in Edmonds. Then the district reached an agreement approved by state regulators with the not-for-profit Swedish Medical Center, which took over operations of Stevens.

Lease payments from Swedish now make it possible for the hospital district, through its Verdant Health Commission, to hand out funds to various private and public entities that promote health and well-being. This year Verdant has given out nearly $1.8 million to local senior centers, the Boys & Girls Club, family support organizations, the Lynnwood Food Bank, domestic violence support services, and many others.

“This is an example of great government in action,” Zapora added. “We have an excellent business relationship with Swedish Medical Center, we are building up our reserves, and funding health and wellness programs throughout the area. And its costing the residents nothing in taxes.”

Edmonds School District students entering the third grade this fall will see a direct benefit from Verdant, as the swimming lessons voucher program is scheduled to continue. Students can look for these next set of vouchers to be handed out in their elementary school sometime in late September.

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