For a year and a half, the Swafford family – Deanna, Kevin, and Hunter – have participated in the YMCA’s adaptive swim program. According to his mom, Hunter has developed as a swimmer and learned how to help others in distress, among other things. This is truly an amazing success story because Hunter is one of the many children in the program with developmental disabilities.
The Athens YMCA provides adaptive swim for youth with special needs in Clarke and surrounding counties. The program is customized for children with intellectual and other disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, ADHD, and Down syndrome. The class is held one day per week for eight weeks. There is one instructor per child with volunteers in attendance. An adaptive specialist, the YMCA aquatics director and a certified lifeguard also attend each class.
Children participating in this program are encouraged to gain independence and body awareness through a routine that offers repetition, praise and relaxation. Water allows movement that may not be possible on land. Many of these children experience their first measure of success in this type of program.
Hunter, in particular, has enjoyed great success and has become a much stronger swimmer. Deanna is much more confident in her son’s abilities since he began the class. “I no longer have to fear that Hunter would drown if he got the keys to my parents’ pool and fell in the deep end. He knows what to do if he gets tired and ways to exit the pool.”
Adaptive swim instructor Ricky Duncan works with Hunter on therapy goals, including following two-step directions. “Ricky and the other instructors and volunteers have become extended family and part of the team of people we rely on in regards to Hunter,” says Deanna.
The compassionate and caring team has helped Hunter create and reach his goals. Deanna states, “Hunter absolutely loves coming. It is a highlight of his week. If we have to miss for some reason, Hunter gets concerned about how much Coach Ricky is going to miss him.”
She also has many positive things to say about the adaptive swim program at the YMCA. “They take the children where they are, at their ability or confidence level, and work to develop a highly individualized plan to further their comfort and ability in the water, while still making it very fun for the child.”
For more information about the YMCA’s adaptive swim classes, contact Ben Schultz at 706-543-6596.
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