Youngstown Lifeguard Academy Invited to Present at the National Parks


Posted April 21, 2022 by AndrwDerAlex

(1888 PressRelease) An award-winning inner-city youth workforce development program has partnered with their parks department to solve one problem and finds success in saving more than just the summer swim season.
 
Youngstown, Ohio – The Youngstown Lifeguard Academy has been selected to present to over six thousand Park and Recreation Leaders from across the country. The Academy will share with these leaders the benefit of establishing a symbiotic relationship with a non-profit set up to train Lifeguards as First Responders, potential Recreation and Parks employees and/or until they discover the career of their dreams.
The Youngstown Lifeguard Academy was found in February of 2019 by the Honorable Kevin A. Tarpley I, who is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors. He had drafted the concept of the Lifeguard Academy, which sat on his desk for 14 years. He returned to his hometown of Youngstown to help his hometown get what he described as a win.

His plans were to start the Academy organizing process in 2020 once he secured a job that would support him financially and provide the flexibility to work on the needs of the Academy.

Chief Barry F. Finley, who is recognized as one the most qualified Fire Chiefs in the state of Ohio saw Tarpley at PNC Bank opening a new account. He thought Tarpley was visiting his hometown from Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Tarpley inform Chief Finley that he had returned to help Youngstown get a win. He further shared with Chief Finley that he plans to establish a Lifeguard Academy once he secured employment. Chief Finley once was a student of Mr. Tarpley when he was an America Red Cross, Water Safety Instructor.

Chief Finley implored Tarpley to not wait the year and move now to get things in place as the Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department has historically had difficulty identifying and training enough Lifeguards for the last remaining pool in the city.

Tarpley agreed to start the process since he recalled the promise, he made to 15 years old Finley that he would help him when asked. So, Tarpley recognized that he needed to honor that commitment from over 40 years ago. The only caveat Tarpley had for Finley was that he agrees to serve as a member of the Board of Directors, Finley did agree.

Chief Finley want Tarpley to agree to sit down with Dawn Turnage, Director of the Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department to share with her his plans for the Academy and how it would support her needs for Northside Pool.

Tarpley met with Ms. Turnage in March of 2019. He laid out his plans for the Academy and how this could become a symbiotic relationship where the Academy could train lifeguards first for the last remaining city pool. Ms. Turnage was thrilled with the concept, and she wanted to ensure that Tarpley could use his skills to also assist her with the mission of the Parks and Recreation Department. She offered him a seasonal position. This addressed Tarpley employment needs and would later prove to be helpful in shaping other aspects of the Academy.

Ms. Turnage had one other need that Mr. Tarpley was well versed in due to his experience=serving as a pool manager when he was just 16 years old. She needed an experienced manager to take the lead at Northside Pool the summer of 2019.

While serving as the manager at Northside Pool. Tarpley began the process of identifying founding youth members of the Academy. He looked to see which young people appeared to be the leaders. Through his lens he thought they would be the Football or Basketball stars. He was surprised when Luther C. Bell, who was 16 years old and all of 5.5” emerged as one of the “Shot Callers.”

Tarpley approached Bell and his two buddies and asked them if they were interested in becoming Lifeguards. He enthusiastically said, “Yes.”
Tarpley began the process of testing these young men commitment to what he knew would take for them to complete the Lifeguard Training. He had them commit to arriving at the pool in the morning by 10:00 AM. He purchased Black Jammers for them to wear so not to be encumbered by the gym shorts that they normally wore like most inner-city youth. Flutter Kick, Side Stroke, Breaststroke, Back Stroke, Inverted Breaststroke and others.

After one month of training Tarpley made Luther C. Bell the first captain of the Academy of three individuals. He made the two others 1st Lieutenants in preparation of the Fall start up in order to set the tone of a serious program for new candidates.

Fast forward, the Academy had ten young people who stay committed and in February of 2020, these young people were with tears when they were informed that all training would have to be suspended due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, the Academy pushed forward in their participation with community service projects to hold the program together. A Board member secured a $25,000.00 credit card, which sustained the Academy for the year. However, this would later become a burden for the Academy because the promised support would also dry up due to COVID-1in 9.
The Academy Board in March 2020 issued a press release that called on elected officials to begin to plan for the aftermath of COVID-19 to support workforce development for some of the most at-risk and underserved youth and young adults.

The Academy sought support from a local bank, Home Saving and Loan. The Academy appeared to be on track to receive $463,000.00 to support a start up budget in which the Academy was planning to leverage these funds to cover staffing, space rental, program materials, transportation and youth basic needs.

Once again, COVID-19 derailed the plan to provide this support with half planned to come from the bank foundation and half from the bank’s CRA (Community Reinvestment Act mandated funds).

The Academy had to pivot. The Academy set it sights on Workforce Development funds from the state through the local Workforce Development Board and Community Development Block Grant Funds. In the meantime, the Academy continue to participate in community service projects. Most notable was that through the Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department.

Director, Dawn Turnage was taking every step possible to ensure that adults who were consider “essential workers” had place where their young people could have a “normal” summer. The Academy made itself available through community service.

As a result, Director, Turnage nominated Captain Luther C. Bell and former 1st Lieutenant Martez Scott as the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, Outstanding Youth Leaders of the Year for 2020. In November of 2020; the Academy was notified that these two young men had in fact won this recognition.

This became the first time ever that someone from Youngstown had won this statewide honor out the 88 counties in the state of Ohio.
This was again repeated in 2021, 1st Lieutenant Aaron Medina became one of two young people from the Academy to secure his Lifeguard Certification from the Youngstown YMCA. He and former 1st Lieutenant Scott became the first Academy members to secure employment with the Parks and Recreation Department as Lifeguards at the last remaining pool in the city of Youngstown. Later, he was joined by Captain Bell, 1st Lieutenant Williams, and Cadet Favors. They were joined by three other young people from the community who later joined the Academy at the end of the season.

As a result of the success of Academy members. Director Turnage was able to operate the Northside Pool with a full staff, which led to Learn to Swim for Summer Day Camper of the Parks Department, a Community Learn to Swim, Music by the Pool, two community funded Free Swims and a Movie Night by the Pool, that called on these young people to work extra hours in the interest of city residents. She was able to do what directors with budgets and staff ten times the size of Youngstown could not do. Have a full summer swim program that end on Labor Day.
Medina was promoted to the position of Assistant Pool Manager/Head Lifeguard. He was nominated by Ms. Turnage as the OPRA, Outstanding Youth Leader for 2021 for his professionalism and leadership while serving as Assistant Pool Manager/Head Lifeguard and for his role on the Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department, Internal Steering Committee, which she put in place to advise her on Reclaiming. Repurposing and Preserving Public Lands where he was elected to the role of 1st Vice-Chair. He later became the committee chairman in November when he also was made aware that he had in fact won the OPRA, Outstanding Youth Leader of the Year for 2021. This became an historic event that the city of Youngstown had won this honor two years in a row and both times by members of the Youngstown Lifeguard Academy.

1st Lieutenant Medina was honored again by members of the Steering Committee by officially placing his name on a plan for park improvements for the soon to be city property of McKelvey Lake. The proposed improvement would become known as the Medina Plan.

For all his hard work, the local news channel; channel 33 presented him with the Hometown Hero Award in late February to honor his hard work and commitment to the city of Youngstown.

The Youngstown Lifeguard Academy received more good news in February when the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services met with representatives of the Academy, which included 1st Lieutenant Medina to discuss their proposal to be considered as a “Special Project” for the state. It is the belief of the Founder, Mr. Tarpley that 1st Lieutenant Medina’s participation put the Academy over the top convincing the staff of the Department of Job and Family Service to invest in the Academy $596,676.35 as a Special Project for the state.

The Academy will seek to share the possibilities with Park Directors from all over the country what is possible when there are adults willing to support young people by allowing the park system to become a real time engaging classroom.

Those wishing to support the Youngstown Lifeguard Academy or may have more questions can call the Hon. Kevin A. Tarpley I, Founder/Chair at 330-774-9799.

http://www.ylasavelives.org
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Last Updated April 21, 2022