Adaptive Aquatics

This is an
AMI This Week Short Cut. MAN: I’m Anthony McLachlan
for Accessible Media in
Kitchener. (Kids chattering,
laughter echoing) Forest Heights Community
Centre is home to an aquatics
program that ensures kids
of all abilities have a chance to swim
or just be comfortable in the water. And who best to tell us
about the program than Dave Millar,
Supervisor of Aquatics here at Forest Heights Pool. Dave, you’ve been with
the program for a little over
15 years now. So, what has kept you
coming back? I think it’s
a great program. I think is serves a valuable
function in our community. I love the kids;
I love the volunteers; I love the staff that are part
of it, and why leave? ANTHONY:
So, tell us more about what exactly the adaptive
aquatics program really is. DAVE:
I mean, I boil it down to say adaptive aquatics is about
ensuring everyone has the opportunity
to learn to swim. ANTHONY:
And through the use of
extensive volunteer power, participants explore a
variety of different
techniques in the pool. Well, the use of volunteers
allows us to have people working one-on-one with
the participants. So, rather than being involved
in a full class where all the kids need to be
doing the exact same skill, the volunteer can work
with the participant to adapt the skill to whatever that participant’s
abilities would be. So specifically,
what types of skills might someone learn
on an average day here? Uh, it all depends on
the learner. All of our different swimmers
are at different skill levels. If someone is starting
at the beginning, they’ll start by learning
to put their face in the water, blow bubbles. From there, they’ll learn
to float assisted, then float unassisted. Then they’ll start adding in
the glide, then adding in kicking
their legs, using their arms. So, some swimmers
are starting from scratch. We have other swimmers,
though, that are really having strokes
that are quite good and they’re honing those skills. ANTHONY:
And some swimmers have been
working on those skills for a long time,
including Robyn, who has been swimming at
Forest Heights since she was
four. I’m most happy
about the teachers, because they help me
a lot. ANTHONY: And for Marco, there
are lots of reasons to keep
coming back. Well, it’s just so much fun
to dive, jump in, and, like, the water is very warm. And if you have goggles,
you can see in. ANTHONY:
After a year of swimming
with the program participant Chloe
has made lots of progress, and she has her reasons
for coming back, too. So, what’s your favourite part,
Chloe? The splashing. Splashing?
Chloe’s mom Kim loves
the program, and she tells us how
important it’s become for
Chloe. KIM:
I don’t have to get her
ready for class. She gets herself ready. She’s
all ready the night before. It’s important for programs
like this to exist in the community because–
I mean, obviously, we want our kids to learn
how to swim. They get one-on-one support,
that otherwise, would be very difficult for
parents to pay for in the community. Again, these angels,
our volunteers are so wonderful, and they’re excellent role
models for our kids as well. ANTHONY:
And those volunteers
so integral to the program like Nick are
happy to help. I think it’s just a really good
experience, you know? It’s very rewarding to
be able to help people out and everything, you know? I just see them smiling
and everything in the pool. It’s kind of cool. ANTHONY:
For Accessible Media
in Kitchener, I’m Anthony McLachlan.

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