Jan 23
January 23, 2015

Making a Healthy Splash in Palm Springs


Over the last week in Palm Springs, community partners are gathering to take action and celebrate progress leading up to the Clinton Foundation Health Matters Summit.

Desert Healthcare Foundation, the City of Palm Springs and local partners are celebrating achievements launched as part of pledges made at the 2014 Clinton Health Matters Summit. Last weekend, thousands participated in the fourth annual Mayor’s Healthy Planet Healthy You Race and Wellness Festival. The event raises money annually to implement the Coachella Valley Blueprint for Action. And this weekend we’ll kick off a community health and wellness initiative with a Clinton Foundation Day of Action in Palm Springs, designed to promote healthy communities and behaviors. For all of us working toward a healthier future for today and tomorrow, health does matter and we are excited about both our progress and our potential.

In fact, last week we handed out certificates to the first sixty graduates from the Ready, Set, Swim! classes, a pilot project launched just weeks ago, implemented in partnership with Palm Springs Unified School District, Palm Springs Boys and Girls Club, YMCA of the Desert, Desert Recreation District, Borrego Health, John H. Furbee, Riverside County Department of Public Health, F10 Creative, Future Sports Products International, and other local partners.

Here in the Valley, we believe that learning how to swim should not be a luxury, it should be an expectation as a matter of public health and safety.


The project is the first launched out of the physical activity fund, created by the Desert Healthcare Foundation with a donation from the Healthy Planet, Healthy You Race proceeds which were matched by funds from the Desert Healthcare District.  The creation of a physical activity collective fund is one of the goals of the Coachella Valley Blueprint for Action, designed to bring together partners who share the goal of promoting an active lifestyle and want to work together to extend the reach and impact of their efforts to collectively achieve more. For the Ready Set Swim! program, the Desert Healthcare District matched funds generated by the annual Race and Wellness Festival to kick start the swim program. Research shows that if a child doesn’t learn to swim before they leave the third grade, they likely never will. 

Our collective commitment is to teach every child how to swim before they leave the 3rd grade, and the pilot program is expected to teach over 500 children. According to the Center for Disease Control, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.  Here in the Valley, we believe that learning how to swim should not be a luxury, it should be an expectation as a matter of public health and safety.

Our goal is to eventually bring partners and funders together over the next several years to reach an estimated 7,000 third graders attending our public schools, establishing the program as a core component of third grade education in the Valley.Additionally, early swimming lessons also help promote skills that will lead to a life time of physical activity, and will empower kids to save lives, whether their own or those of friends or family.

We’re pleased and excited that for our local 3rd graders, learning how to swim will no longer be a luxury, it will be an expectation, ensuring their water safety and supporting a healthy lifestyle. This is only one program of several that has been funded by the Race and Wellness Festival, and at the Health Matters Annual Activation Summit taking place in Indian Wells next week, I ll be sharing more progress updates about how we’re implementing Blueprint for Action bold steps. It’s clear that good health is contagious – let’s all try to catch it.