Swim program for children with special needs a big hit
Medical student Ben Frid can tell by the kids’ reaction that the swim program he started at Queen’s University for children with special needs is a big success.
“It’s easy to see there’s something special going on when small children run up to their instructor with huge smiles on their faces and arms at maximum wingspan to embrace someone they only met two weeks ago,” says Mr. Frid (Meds’15).
Mr. Frid created a local chapter of the national Making Waves program in fall 2011. There are currently about 40 children who meet Thursday evenings at the Athletics and Recreation Centre pool. The program gives personalized, one-on-one instruction to children with developmental disabilities between the ages of 3 and 15.
Group swimming lessons are often not suitable for children with developmental disabilities because they have shorter attention spans, require more personalized supervision and need individually adapted teaching methods to ensure their success.
Unfortunately, personal swim lessons can be too expensive for many families who have children with special needs. Making Waves uses volunteer instructors and offers a full season of swim lessons for only $25.
Some of the children involved in the program used to be afraid of going into the water but now look forward to their weekly swim lesson.
“For me, it is the huge smiles, the euphoric high fives, and the proud shouts of ‘Mom! Mom! Did you see that?!’ that motivate me to continue Making Waves,” says Mr. Frid.
The physical activity has other benefits as well. Mr. Frid says the children seem to do better in school and their general behaviour improves. It is also an opportunity to make new friends.
Mr. Frid first started a Making Waves chapter in Ottawa in 2009 while he was studying at the University of Ottawa.