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Baltimore City pools to implement inclusive policies for people with disabilities

Baltimore City to implement inclusive policies for people with disabilities visiting pools
Baltimore City to implement inclusive policies for people with disabilities visiting pools 02:08

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore City Recreation and Parks will be making some changes to its policies at city pools to make them more inclusive for those with disabilities.

"That's all it really takes," Stephen Offutt of Walking Discovery said. "That simple solution and that awareness."

The changes are a big win for Offutt and his group Walking Discovery, which plans outings for adults with disabilities.

"To see some quick, simple implementations of the changes that we wanted was just refreshing," Offutt said.

Earlier this month, he and his group had a negative experience at the Druid Hill Park pool, mainly because of rules at the pool.

When the group tried to bring in medications they needed, they had issues because of the no bag policy.

Offutt went to Baltimore City Recreation and Parks to explain the issue.

Now there are changes.

"They're basically allowing these red mesh bags that will kind of be a signaler to the lifeguards to say, 'Hey this bag is cool,'" Offutt said.

Not only that, Rec and Parks is adding sensory swim hours at Patterson Park pool on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

"It won't be the general public and the crowds and the noise and the music," Offutt said. "It'll be a chill sensory hour and a half."

There will be new training for staff.

"We've recently hired a new DEI coordinator and she is helping us with training our aquatics team to make sure that they have the best information about how to serve people of all abilities this summer."

Offutt says he's also been asked to help with accommodations for this year's Artscape.

In the meantime, he'll be making sure the pools remain inclusive for all.

"It will take going back to the pool and make sure everything's cool and that the way that we're treated lines up with what the law is, what our accommodations are," Offutt said.

Offutt says he's also focused on growing his group.

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