IDEATE: Team YMCA

Ideate was an interesting phase for our team, that truly shows that the design process is not linear, and how iteration can lead to improvement. After lots of rapid ideating, we began clustering our ideas and saw that there were two main insight-driven clusters — that the positions of lifeguarding at the YMCA needs to be more directly advertised to young people through social media, and that the skills gained from lifeguarding need to be marketed as impacting young people’s long-term career goals.

From this we went on to decide that this would best be done by launching a social media campaign through instagram, as this is a social media platform that young people are most likely to interact with. We decided that we needed to represent diversity through this instagram page, but that mere pictures of diversity can often come off as contrived, and that video would be a more effective medium. Furthermore, we decided that these videos should capture the fun and community-driven aspect of lifeguarding at the YMCA. We also found through interviews that the closing of pools due to lack of lifeguards is not well known. The instagram page is also a great way to advertise this fact, as individuals with a strong emotional attachment to the pool, likely strong swimmers who grew up swimming or around the pool, and is a potential way of encouraging these people to apply in order to keep pools open.

As for the career aspect, we decided that the best way to tackle this would to have a college liaison position in place at each YMCA, who would act as a consult for young people to go to for career help. The responsibilities would include resume review, specifically helping employees with how to translate the meaningful skills gained through lifeguarding to their long-term goals, both college and career wise. Furthermore, we wanted diversity training to be implemented in higher-up positions at the YMCA, so that diverse lifeguards would have someone they feel comfortable going to with their experiences as a lifeguard of color.

As we went on to decide on specific measures of success for both of these approaches, we found that the professional development aspect is a difficult concept to prototype and test the actual effectiveness. Due to this we went back to our users by releasing a survey open to all Rice University students who had lifeguarded in the past. This survey was distributed with intention of gaining further insights about specific difficulties in both the application and training process, as these are huge barrier to young people applying to become lifeguards, and we instead think that this should be a main focus of our project.

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