Endless support. That’s how we would describe the “Bring a Friend to the Pool Day” for School District 22’s Adapted Aquatics Program (AAP) that occurred last week. The support came from the students’ friends, Education Assistants, and from the Vernon Recreational Centre Red Cross and Aquadapt instructors, who were all in the water with the AAP students.
Nearly 60 students, from across the district, participate in the AAP, a program that is designed to promote and provide aquatic opportunities for students with disabilities. Some of the benefits to the students include physical, cognitive and emotional gains.
“The students love the program,” said Candice Young, district inclusion specialist. “It’s an opportunity for some who many not excel in the classroom but do really well in the pool.”
Throughout the three month lessons, the students gain increased balance and coordination, enhance their breathing and respiratory endurance, learn about water safety and pool etiquette, increase their self-esteem, develop a trusting relationship with someone other than their classroom teacher or EA, and have fun, taking part in group activities.
While some students may be hesitant in performing a certain task, such as jumping off a diving board, it is encouraging to witness them inching their way forward to the edge, take a few steps back, and then jump! With the encouraging cheers from peers and instructors, the swimmer emerges from the water with a large smile and proud feeling of success.
“Looking around at the various activities around the pool, we just see smiles,” said Young.
“We are very thankful for the staff at the Rec Centre,” Young continued. “Prior to the lessons, we had the opportunity to speak with them, letting them know what they could expect from the students, and how to handle certain behaviours. All the instructors and lifeguards have been exceptional and extremely flexible with our students.”
It is safe to say, that the students in the Adapted Aquatics Program probably feel the same as a popular fish, who never gave up, and will want to “just keep swimming.”