Great Opportunities (GO) was founded in 2002 and works with High Risk Children, ages 7 to 18 years old, from San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, El Toro. Capo Beach, and San Clemente. GO’s swim lessons and Beach Awareness Program are both offered at no cost to the participants. GO has given swim lessons to over 2,652 kids of San Juan Capistrano and in addition, GO has had over 662 children in the Beach Awareness Program. Swim classes range from beginning to intermediate to advanced levels. The Beach Awareness Program, which promotes ocean safety and environmental awareness.
The components of the current Beach Awareness Program are Aquatic Safety, Environmental Education, and Recreation.
The At Risk Youth participate in:
Beach activities and Beach safety.
Lessons in how the beach is produced as well as ocean current and waves.
Boating safety and etiquette.
Deep sea fishing.
Visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Study the ocean floor and living organisms of the ocean.
Great Opportunities Beach Awareness Program uses the Orange County Transportation Authority bus system to go to various locations. This is the only cost incurred by participants (and can prohibit some families from participating). GO will supply body boards and soft surf boards for Beach Awareness Program.
Great Opportunities and Program Objectives:
It is important to note that all GO events/projects are youth-lead, and guidance is given to assist them in being successful.
Lifeguards are 16 years or older (required by American Red Cross to be enrolled in class) and can enroll in a Lifeguarding course at Saddleback Junior College. In the course work individuals are taught water rescue skills, and certified in 1st Aide & CPR. Compensation is a hourly salary of $10.
LMT’s (are kids below the age of 16 that assist with the GO program) they are given swim instruction on how to conduct a swim lesson and what elements to incorporate. Course work is given on Bulling by a specialist in the field and how to defuse confrontation. Course work and certification is given in 1st Aid and CPR.
LMT’s are paid a stipend from $50 to $550 based on their contribution to the program.
Growth in Leadership
High risk youth (7th grade and higher) are given the opportunity to instruct and guide other children. The Lifeguards are challenged in a college setting in completing the Lifeguarding course. The challenges exist in the course work, the physical exertion, and the 52 hours of attendance required. LMT’s will work with participants giving swim instruction to youth ages 7 to 17. Lifeguards and LMT’s will also give directions with regards to the rules the kids who in attend the Beach Awareness Program.
- Lifeguard and LMT’s will be required to research and present to attendees of the Beach Awareness Program on different topics that are program related to the beach environment (topics will be chosen by GO instructors).
For the children that attend the swim portion of the program, a short 10 minute math practice is given to each participant (problems are taken from grade specific work book).
Participants of the San Clemente swim program are requested to spend one hour working on math problems. Thru negotiation with City of San Clemente of low income families, children are bused to Taliaga Swim Complex to take in swim lessons offered by the city at a reduced cost.
At the end of the GO Summer Program a verbal evaluation of the Program is given by Lifeguards and LMT’s. Evaluations will consist of what they have gained as a intricate part the GO Program and what aspect of the Great Opportunities (Swim & Beach Awareness Program) they would change.
Great Opportunities of other events during the course of the year:
First, GO takes part in “Mongoose Cup” (a “Stand Up Paddle” (SUP) competition) The SUP is created from used plastic drinking bottles (the Plastiki). The board is built by the high risk youth from the GO program.
“Earth Day” (GO supplies gloves and trash bags) to kids and family members are given the task of cleaning up their neighborhood by picking up trash.
GO offers a Bike Rodeo (a bicycle safety event) to residents of San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, El Toro, and Dana Point in which Great Opportunities gives out bicycle helmets to all participants in attendance.
The G.O. kids also participate in the City of San Juan Capistrano “Creek Clean Up”, an event that also celebrates “Coastal Clean Up”.
“West Wind Sailing” located in Dana Point Harbor offers Learn to Sail Program in the Fall season at no charge to the high risk kids of Great Opportunities.
Works in progress:
Great Opportunities is leading the charge in the coalition to have a Skate Plaza constructed in San Juan Capistrano.
GO is focused on a event of Financial Literacy for the youth of Orange County.