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GEHA-supported swim program receives Outstanding Aquatic Branch Program Award for the first time

GEHA | February 2, 2023

The state-wide award recognizes the impact of a collaborative effort to champion health equity through water safety and aquatics access.

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (Feb. 2, 2023) – GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.) and partners at the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS Parks and Recreation Department, Kansas City, KS Public Schools (KCKPS) and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City recently received the annual Outstanding Aquatic Branch Program Award from the Kansas Recreational and Parks Association. The award recognizes the impact of the 2022 Parkwood Pool Learn to Swim Program, a collaborative effort to provide children with swimming lessons in an area with the worst health outcomes in the state.

In 2022, GEHA provided funding for 200 students' summer swim lessons at Parkwood Pool, the only public swimming pool in Kansas City, KS. The students participated in two, four-day instructional sessions and were provided with necessary equipment, including a swimming suit, goggles, towels and sunscreen, to support their success in the program.

“Nearly 64% of African American children nationally have low or no swimming ability. As a local organization dedicated to health and wellness, it's vital that we help improve this statistic through the continued support of programming like the Parkwood Pool Learn to Swim Program,” said GEHA President & CEO Arthur A. Nizza, DSW. “We’re honored to receive this designation which underpins our commitment to making a difference in the communities we serve.”

The USA Swimming Foundation found that 79% of children in families with a household income of less than $50,000 have little to no swimming capability, and that more than 65% of African American children would like to swim more than they do. Notably, 38% of participants in the Parkwood Pool Learn to Swim Program had never been submerged in the water prior to the lessons. Through the program, 100% of students improved their water safety abilities and gained confidence in submerging.

“Ensuring our community has equitable recreation opportunities is at the forefront of our core values,” said Unified Government Parks and Recreation Director Angel Ferrara.” We are grateful for our community partners GEHA, YMCA, and KCKPS, who helped make the Learn to Swim Program possible, but more importantly, our partners understand the importance of breaking down barriers and meeting communities where they are at. It is an honor to be recognized for KRPA’s Outstanding Aquatic Program Award, and we look forward to the continued partnerships serving our community.”

“The Y believes that all children should have the opportunity to learn to swim, regardless of their background, where they live, the color of their skin, or their access to a pool,” said Aquatics Program Director II, YMCA of Greater Kansas City Sabrah Parsons. “Thanks to our partners and our shared commitment to eliminate drowning, we're empowering our youth with lifesaving knowledge to avoid dangerous situations in the water and rescue not only themselves, but assist others when needed. Too many lives have been lost to drowning. Together, we are working against social, economic and racial barriers and empowering our youth to find the joy in swimming safely and take that with them for a lifetime.”

The Parkwood Pool Learn to Swim Program, now a part of the expanded Joe Delaney Learn to Swim Program, Presented by GEHA, will be held again in June and July 2023.

GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.) is a nonprofit member association that provides medical and dental benefits to more than 2 million federal employees and retirees, military retirees and their families. Offering one of the largest medical and dental benefit provider networks available to federal employees in the United States, GEHA empowers health and wellness by meeting its members where they are, when they need care.

Headquartered in Lee's Summit, Missouri, with approximately 1,600 employees, GEHA is committed to its members and their communities.

GEHA has gained distinctive civic recognition by being named one of the top 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America, 2022 Corporate Partner of the Year for the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the 2022 Nonprofit Champion of Diversity for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the 2022 Truly the Best Business of the Year for Lee's Summit (Missouri) Chamber of Commerce and named a top 20 finalist for the 2022 NACD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion award. In 2022, GEHA signed the CEO Action Pledge, furthering its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

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KCKPS is the largest school district in Wyandotte County and the fifth largest in the state of Kansas. The diverse school district serves students in Pre-K through 12th grade. The student population of more than 21,000 students is made up of about 50% Hispanic, 29% African American, 11% White and 7% Asian. The vision of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools is to be one of the Top 10 School Districts in the Nation. For more information, visit

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, was formed by public ballot initiative in 1997. Representing the fourth most populous county in the state of Kansas, the Unified Government provides city and county services to nearly 165,000 residents across 156 square miles. For more information, visit

Driven by its founding mission, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community since 1860. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they're from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y's goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across communities. The Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Visit for more information.

Lisa Ketteler (GEHA) | 816-434-2508