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Lifeguard Certificate

We got back into the pool in February 2024, this time at Temple University and with a total of 11 teens. 10 of them graduated on March 23rd and are ready to work as Lifeguards at Philadelphia Parks and Rec this summer!

















We've found that about 90% of the 400+ teens that have applied for this program since January 2023, don't swim well enough to participate in the lifeguard training. In April 2024, we were awarded a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency to expand our program to include a 'paid to learn to swim' program. Stay tuned for details about this in the Fall, 2024.

Every year in Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation struggles to open all of the public pools due to a lifeguard shortage. To fill that need, and to provide an opportunity for teens to develop work history, expand their professional networks, in 2023, we piloted in partnership with Drexel University and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation an opportunity for teens to get paid to earn their lifeguard certification.  We received 248 applications in 9 days, for just 15 openings. 

In addition to getting their certification, teens participate in weekly workshops learning how to create a resume and a LinkedIn profile, and get support completing the application making them eligible to work at parks & Recreation as a lifeguard over the summer (and beyond!). We  also helped them get their necessary physical exam.


To further remove barriers, Drexel's West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood ensured that every teen received a bathing suit, bathing cap, pool slides, towel, and goggles, and Fab Youth Philly provided backpacks, waterbottles, a FYP t-shirt and FYP hoodie.

March 2024 lifeguard graduates.JPG
Teen Lifeguards in training at Drexel Summing Pool 2023

Given the high demand for this opportunity, and also, that the majority of the teens who expressed interest in this opportunity self-identified based on a set of questions, that they would not likely pass the swim test, we plan to pay teens to learn how to swim starting in the fall of 2024 to prepare them to take on the certification.

This approach will continue to help us meet many shared goals, including meeting teens developmental needs like developing financial independence, providing them with an engaging and meaningful way for them to spend their time.


If you would like to support this or any of our other youth programs, click on the donate button.

Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

The Inaugural Partners

Philadelphia Parks

& Recreation:

Water Safety Instructors

Drexel University

Athletics Department:

Pool Time

West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood:

Youth Salaries & Supplies

Drexel University

Heath Hub:

Physical Exams for Employment

with additional support to fund future cohorts from

Connelly Foundation

Opioid Response Fund

"You believed I could do it."

That's what one of the teens said to Rebecca as he was leaving his first official day of lifeguard training. "S" is one of the 16 teens who showed up three weeks ago to take a 3-part swim test he needed to pass in order to participate in our paid lifeguard certification program we are piloting with Drexel University Athletics and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

He didn't pass on the first try. Rebecca was worried that he might not come back the following week to try again. But he did! And he worked hard again, though started to get discouraged as he was getting tired and he got out of the water. Rebecca tried all of the tricks in her bag to get him back in the water one last time, but he wasn't having it, and went to get changed, along with the other teens who had passed the test.


The instructor said to Rebecca that he thought "S" would be able to pass if he kept coming back and doing the work, so she told "S" to get his on-boarding paperwork so he could start the job the following week.


This week, the teens started their training in earnest, watching a water safety video, then applying in the pool what they had learned in the classroom. After a little more than an hour in the pool, it was time to go. As the teens staggered out of the locker rooms, "S" came over to sign out and said to me: "Rebecca, I want to thank you for letting me come back again this week." Rebecca said to him: "I am so glad you came back, you put in the hard work and I'm really proud of you. You did the most important thing, which is show up and work hard." He replied, “Yeah, but you believed I could do it."

Sometimes, we get distracted by the day to day challenges of running a small organization, of fundraising, of developing and sustaining partnerships, the endless recruiting, hiring and training of staff, and want to walk away from all of it. And, then, we meet "S," and just like that, we are energized and hopeful about our future, especially about a summer with open pools staffed by the incredible teens we've had the incredible fortune to meet through this program.

Are you a teen (15-19 y/o) or do you know one who would like to learn more about our lifeguard programming?


Make sure you follow us on

Social Media @fabyouthphilly to know when our applications go live!

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