Hopping angry re pool cuts

Toronto Star Monday April 7, 2008  Letters to the Editor

I am hopping angry about the mere thought of closing Toronto's school pools. I am the parent of a student at Riverdale Collegiate Institute, whose pool is slated to close at the end of the school year. I believe that in Ontario, we have a responsibility to ensure that every child learns to swim – not just for the joy of the water but to protect themselves from drowning.
I am speaking not just for my family but for the thousands of Toronto parents who also want and expect the best for their children but are unable to do so, either because of financial or language difficulties.
Every child should learn to swim. This can be best provided at the school level.
Bonnie Penfound, Toronto

Every summer in Ontario, there are numerous reports of children drowning. Most of these occur at family recreational outings and could have been prevented with water safety education. Unfortunately, many parents – especially those who are newcomers to Canada and/or are in low-income families – do not have the means to pay for swimming lessons. Community programs are oversubscribed.
Rather than closing pools, the Toronto District School Board should be expanding its aquatics education programs for reasons of both safety and fitness.
Andrea Demchuk, Toronto

At a time when childhood obesity rates and diabetes are increasing, especially in areas where children have little opportunity for recreation, this is no time to be closing swimming pools.
These school pools are valuable assets in providing opportunities for our children – including those from the city's many ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds – to learn to swim. Rather than closing pools, we should be following the example of countries like Japan that strive to have a pool in every school that is open to the community during the summer months.
Jane Veit, Toronto

It seems a shame that at a time when everyone is concerned about obesity, the Toronto school board is closing pools. In some areas, these pools are the only avenue for kids to learn how to swim. Isn't it better for kids to spend their time before or after school exercising than hanging out on the streets?
From my own experience, swimming in high school has become a lifelong activity that has helped to keep me healthy, thereby decreasing the drain on the health-care system. How short-sighted of our provincial government not to fund our schools adequately.
Bonnie Daw, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Closing these pools is a betrayal of the kids the Toronto board is supposed to serve and represent. If I were a trustee, I would have resigned my position rather than close our kids' pools. In fact, the ethical thing would have been for the board to resign en masse rather than be the lapdog of the provincial government and our so-called education minister, Kathleen Wynne.
Al Yolles, Toronto

How ludicrous. To save $4 million a year, thousands of Toronto students will miss out on swimming lessons every year. How many kids drown because they were never taught how to swim? Hypocritically, the government spends millions trying to convince Canadians to get active. Here is one sport that people can pursue throughout their lives, especially if they are taught to swim as children. No doubt we'll wonder why Canadians don't bring home many Olympic swimming medals this summer.
Dave Page, Toronto