One day, a child came into the Ann Arbor YMCA for her Special Olympics swim team practice. She’s a regular at the Y, swimming there for seven years. Unfortunately, on this day, the practice was canceled. It looked like she wouldn’t be able to swim. She had been looking forward to getting into the pool, as swimming is a therapeutic activity for her. Her mother talked to the lifeguards, hoping that there was some way that her daughter could swim. Without hesitation, one of the lifeguards got in the pool with the girl to make her day.
“It helps her body, it helps her mind, so we made sure that she was able to get in the water,” said Ann Arbor YMCA Aquatic Director, Christina Carter.
YMCA’s passion for special needs kids
The Ann Arbor YMCA offers special needs swim instruction for kids of all ages with the goals of catering to the needs of every individual child and being inclusive. Children with special needs can take group swim lessons with other children or choose to take one-on-one private lessons. With the private lessons, the Y does its best to make sure each child’s preferences are met.
Whether they prefer a certain instructor that they have built a bond with, or they would like to swim in the warm pool, the staff at the Y does their best to make sure every child is comfortable and happy.
“Each child goes at their own pace, but ultimately we want them to be safe in and around the water,” Carter said.
Every child is different. Some choose to take lessons often and some move on to swim for the Ann Arbor Special Olympics team, a partnership between the Y and the public schools. The Y provides the pool to swim in while the schools invite certified volunteer coaches for instruction.
No matter what the student or their level, the Y is dedicated to providing an activity to make sure special needs children are educated on how to swim, while helping them to develop social skills. Carter says that swimming is a good community activity that helps develop motor skills. The Y staff ensures that their pools are an awesome place that kids look forward to coming back to.
“At the Y, we are really for all,” Carter said. “Whether you have ability or disability, we want to make sure everyone is able to be where they want to be.”
To check out all the YMCA has to offer,
visit annarborymca.org or call 734-996-9622