Freestyle Pool Pass
The Freestyle Pool Pass was developed by the City of Webster Groves, the Alliance for Interracial Dignity, the Webster Groves School District, and the Webster Groves Rock Hill Ministries. The Freestyle Pass removes barriers to the community swimming pool by providing free day pool passes for individuals and families that require financial assistance.
Community healing requires truth and reconciliation. For many years, our municipality denied the use of the community swimming pool to African Americans; additionally, for decades after the pool was integrated, policy maintained that non-residents could only use the pool with a resident "sponsor." That policy was rooted in exclusion, and while it was thankfully revised in 2021, we hope to demonstrate accountability for past wrongs by working to expand inclusion to water safety and swim instruction opportunities.
Benny Gordon was the lead activist who worked to integrate the Webster pool in the 1950s, but he did so not knowing how to swim. He said, "My children and my grandchildren will enjoy the fruits of what we fought for." By removing financial barriers to swim instruction, Gordon Grants can facilitate greater enjoyment of swim recreation for all, across race and income.
How does it work?
Freestyle pool passes can be requested at the end of the school year by using this form or contact your child’s school counselor. The passes will be given the week of May 22. Once the school year has ended, anyone can receive a pass at Webster Rock Hill Ministries or inside the Webster Groves Recreation Complex at the front desk.
Where can I get the passes?
During pool season, anyone can receive a pass at Webster Rock Hill Ministries or inside the Webster Groves Recreation Complex at the front desk.
How often can I use a pass?
Passes are good for one day of use. You can continue to request a pass throughout the summer. However, if you reside in Webster Groves and know you will be requesting a number of passes, we encourage you to apply for a recreational scholarship.
How is this funded?
Freestyle Passes depend on private donations, with fundraising taking place every other year. This is a fundraising year, and we are hoping to expand the Freestyle Pass program to include a limited number of scholarships providing free water safety and swim classes to those who have a financial barrier to participating. The fundraising goal is $8,500 for pool passes, with funds raised above and beyond that to be dedicated to “Gordon Grants,” swim instruction scholarships named for Benny Gordon, Jr.
If you are interested in donating, checks can be made payable to WRHM and mailed or brought to 111 East Waymire, Webster Groves, 63119. Checks must include “Freestyle Pass Fund” in the memo line. You may also donate online at http://bit.ly/wgfreestyle.
Who developed this program?
Founded in 2021, the Freestyle Pass program is a joint effort of the Webster Groves School District, the City of Webster Groves, the Alliance for Interracial Dignity, and Webster Rock Hill Ministries.
How many people have used the passes?
944 pool passes were used in 2022. This is a 56% growth in usage from the first year.