A recent partnership involving Active Schools Moray (Forres ASG) and the SwimABLE and SurfABLE projects run by accessibility charity Friendly Access, is proving to be inspiring success.
The first block of sessions which took place at Forres Swimming Pool who have wholeheartedly supported this project, involved 8 primary aged children with medical conditions such as Dyspraxia, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, muscle weakness, lack of coordination and balance, Neuro development disorder and Dyslexia, which made it difficult for them to be involved in mainstream sports sessions. All were diagnosed or awaiting diagnosis.
These inclusive structured swimming lessons are for all abilities and all ages. The sessions are person centred and children develop their confidence in the water, and key skills for swimming. A variety of equipment is used within the sessions including floatation aids, flippers, fins, masks, toys and hoops.
The sessions on surf boards in the pool introduce a completely new experience for children they are a great form of exercise working on balance and coordination and give an extra sense of fun that can really keep participants engaged. The hope is that familiarity with the equipment and skills learnt in the pool will get kids ready for trying surfing out in the sea.
Rosalyn Carruthers, Active Schools Coordinator, Forres ASG, “It’s unanimous; these sessions provide a unique opportunity for children to be active and gain essential skills in the water and in some cases overcoming a fear of the water. Our volunteers under Kev’s capable lead and the environment created in these sessions bring out the absolute best in the children. Each week there is progress, and this extends into the classroom and at home. There is huge value placed on these sessions by the child, parents and the school staff. Their feedback has shown the hugely positive ripple effect these sessions are having.”;
“she looks forward to coming so much, she starts talking about her time at the pool on a Tuesday morning and organises her swim suit, t-shirt, shorts and towel herself the night before. She tends to have to be reminded constantly about things and so it’s very obvious how important this is to her”
“We’ve tried swimming lessons but had to stop as she wasn’t coping and was getting herself upset and worked up and didn’t want to come, this is so different she feels like she belongs”
“Can’t thank you enough for organising this. Kev is brilliant with the kids all of the coaches are. She wouldn’t put her head under the water the first week and now she is jumping off the side”
“We came swimming as a family at the weekend, that was something we never could have done before, she wanted to show me what she had learnt”
“The staff throughout the school are noticing the calming effect these sessions are having on the children. When they come back to school they are more focused, engaged and also their listening has really improved. It’s so positive”
“It’s lonely being a parent of a child with ASN, you feel quite excluded, parents with ‘normal children’ tend to judge you as a parent and you hear them saying ‘why can’t she control her child’ here there is none of that we both feel so welcome and it’s so nice to have something to come along to that is enabling her to be active”
“At these sessions she can see that she has strengths and others have strengths, she feels equal and that doesn’t happen very often”
“They’ve really connected they have quite a competitive thing going on, it’s great to see” (staff members discussing children from different schools)
Rosalyn continues. “I’m also absolutely delighted with the number of skilled and capable volunteers we have and want to thank them for their support and commitment.”
Glyn Morris, Chief Executive, Friendly Access, “Taking part in an adventure sport activity is generally thought ‘out of reach’ of many, therefore it is very easy to understand the positive impact for individuals with disabilities and conditions.
At Friendly Access, we mostly consider the environment as being the disabling factor and not the individual. Therefore, we look towards how we as society can adapt to support accessibility.
We’re humbled yet inspired to see our recent innovative projects such as SwimABLE and SurfABLE Scotland being so well received by the very people our projects are aimed at. SurfABLE Scotland is the first fully adaptive and inclusive surfing school in Scotland and based in Lossiemouth, it is the world’s most northerly surfing therapy programme.
Driven by the ‘can do’ ethos, it’s exciting to see the genuine shared passion from organisations we work with. Working with Active Schools Moray has been a prime example of just how well partnerships work in promoting improved, inclusive, social and physical opportunities available for children within safe environments, and where understanding is a priority.”
Kev Anderson, Sports Development Manager, Friendly Access, “It’s incredible to be a part of such an amazing partnership project. I sometimes forget how challenging life with conditions and disabilities such as the ones our participants live with can be, and the importance of sessions like these to give those who may need a little extra help the opportunity to take part, achieve and have fun.
I’m incredibly proud of the improvement the kids have made in such a short space of time, some working on basic water confidence, introducing independent swimming and water safety through to those improving stroke technique over multiple lengths. Every child has made progress whilst getting a great form of exercise and having fun.”
For further press information contact:
Glyn Morris, Chief Executive, Friendly Access (firstname.lastname@example.org) friendlyaccess.org 07779 000203