Last summer, I discovered the joy of swimming at DeFremery Pool and quickly became a regular visitor. As a resident of the vibrant Lower Bottoms community in West Oakland, I was delighted to find a local pool. The pool became more than just a place to exercise; it became a focal point for building community connections and improving my physical endurance.
I was excited to learn that the pool had re-opened to the public earlier this month. However, my excitement turned to disappointment when I learned the pool will be closed at the end of July, due to lack of funding, likely until summer 2024.
Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder called Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) Type 2. While it presented numerous challenges, I made a personal commitment to maintain a healthy lifestyle tailored to my condition. Unfortunately, weight-bearing activities are not suitable for me as they can lead to muscle atrophy without the possibility of regrowth. As I delved into research, I discovered the immense benefits of low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, and yoga.
Swimming, in particular, has become an integral part of my life, providing a full-body workout that is gentle on my muscles and allowing me to alleviate the everyday stresses associated with my diagnosis.
While I understand the financial constraints faced by the City of Oakland, I firmly believe that there is a significant number of individuals in our community, much like myself, who would greatly benefit from the availability of a local pool year-round. This includes people with disabilities, expectant mothers, individuals eager to learn how to swim, and those seeking a convenient and accessible venue for regular exercise without having to travel outside their neighborhood. DeFremery Park has always served as a gathering place for our community for many decades. It seems only fitting that it continues to do so.
Rather than closing the pool until next summer, I propose exploring alternative solutions that could strike a balance between financial viability and community needs. One possibility is to revise the pool’s operating hours, perhaps opening on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. By doing so, we can ensure that those who require the pool the most have access to it throughout the year. Moreover, I suggest that District 3 representatives actively promote the pool, emphasizing its importance and benefits for the well-being of our community.
Given the significant number of people of color lacking swimming skills, keeping the pool open year-round presents a compelling opportunity to not only address this disparity but also provide an enriching array of water-based activities that cater to the diverse needs and interests of the local community.
As someone who is passionate about fostering positive change in my neighborhood, I strongly believe that West Oakland deserves more places that promote a healthy lifestyle and general well-being. The sense of community in our area is unlike anything I have experienced before, and I am committed to working towards the betterment of all residents, not just in my neighborhood, but across West Oakland. It is my hope that this serves as a catalyst for initiating a conversation about the significance of keeping the DeFremery Pool open year-round, especially for those who rely on it the most.
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