Inclusive Programs - Stories
Chloe has enjoyed YMCA SwimAbility swimming lessons at Kurri Kurri Aquatic and Fitness Centre since she was two years old. There were not many places where Chloe could learn to swim with the specialist teachers she needs. A bubbly, smiling nine-year-old, Chloe has Down Syndrome.
In 2010, Chloe was playing with her brother Luke and mother Michelle in the family’s backyard. As Michelle went inside to get a hat, Luke opened the pool gate. It was only a matter of seconds before Chloe had jumped in the water.
Because of her swimming lessons, Chloe was able to swim back to the edge of the pool.
“I have no doubt that if it wasn’t for SwimAbility, Chloe would no longer be with us,” Michelle says.
“The YMCA has been fantastic, they’re amazing people, and they’re very dedicated. You know, they come here every week and, I mean Chloe wasn’t the easiest person to teach and they were just brilliant with her, so patient and kind. She has the best fun and she enjoys it.”
11-year-old Ali was among the first group of students to tumble, jump and spin into our GymAbility program held at YMCA Epping thanks to a grant from the Mazda Foundation.
His teacher, Nerida van Woerkom, from the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Alice Betteridge School, said she was impressed with the program.
“This was the first time I have seen Ali laugh during sport, he really had fun,” she said.
“It was challenging, but not too hard or easy. The program is a good vehicle for building confidence and skills.
“It’s always a challenge to find programs suitable and empathetic to the needs of people with disabilities. As far as programs go, there are not a lot like this out there so it’s good to see something.”
Other schools participating in the program at YMCA Epping include RIDBC Thomas Pattison School and Muirfield High School, through the Barclay Learning Centre.
Kerry Saunders enjoys swimming a remarkable two kilometres each day, something that until recently, she was unable to do. For the past four years Kerry has used a wheelchair since experiencing spinal cord injuries.
Funds raised through the YMCA Swimathon, as well as some help from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, helped to purchase a pool hoist at YMCA-managed Macksville Memorial Swimming Pool. Kerry, and many others, can now access the 50-metre pool rather than just the 17-metre pool, making it easier for everyone to get healthy and happy.
“The pool hoist is wonderful; it gives me a new freedom. It’s safer for everyone – it’s safer for me and it’s safer for the staff as well,” she says.
Words from Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Over the last few years, Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s exercise physiologists have utilised a number of YMCA facilities to deliver exercise and physical activity programs to people with cerebral palsy. Our clients have inclusive and mainstream experiences in the Y gyms and long term participation and physical activity have been the outcome. Without the support of the Y and the great facilities they offer, the outcome of these programs may not be possible. Staff members are welcoming and flexible, always open and supportive to the dynamic nature of the lives of people living with a disability. It has been great to build on such an important community framework and we will continue to do this into the future.
Teigan Butchers | Exercise Physiologisyt
Cerebral Palsy Alliance