SIX-year-old twin brothers Alec and Oliver Robertson love to swim.
The brothers swim every Friday afternoon after their mother Suzie enrolled them into Great Lakes Aquatic and Leisure Centre’s SwimAbility program. The program is designed to help children and adults with a disability learn vital water safety skills.
Both boys suffer from motor dyslexia which makes it difficult for their bodies to do day-to-day things. Oliver is also profoundly deaf and Alec has autism.
Ms Robertson said the boys have been involved in the program for about 18 months and over that time it has made a huge difference to their lives.
“Swimming is absolutely important for them particularly Oliver because he can struggle to understand what’s expected of him. Sharon (instructor) has learnt sign language so there is stronger communication. Alec also struggles in big groups so the smaller setting is a lot better for him,” mum Suzie said.
“We live near the beach so I think being able to swim is really important. It’s very social when you’re at school too and I want them to be able to do nippers if they show an interest.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing with the boys one-on-one with an instructor who focuses on their needs without this type of program.”
The SwimAbility program is subsidised through the Great Lakes Aquatic and Leisure Centre’s annual YMCA Swimathon.
Locally, last year’s event raised $6,850 and $230,000 nationally. Great Lakes assistant manager Ashleigh Alcorn said it is hoped the centre can go one better this year and reach the $10,000 mark.
“If we can get up to $10,000 then it would give 550 lessons to around 23 local kids,” she said.
“When you think about it, for the kids or adults who have a disability, there can be so many additional costs involved for them to be able to do day-to-day things.
“The money raised doesn’t just go towards the lessons it also goes towards things like purchasing new pool equipment, pool hoists and lifts.”
Locals are being encouraged to take part in this year’s Swimathon at the Great Lakes Aquatic and Leisure Centre on Lake Street on Sunday March 1 from 10am to 2pm.
The day will include a slip n’ slide, barbecue, novelty races and games in the pool.
Local sporting organisations are also being invited to enter a team to compete in mini-competitions in the pool or gym.
For more information contact the centre on 6591 7199 or visit the website: http://ymcaswimathon.org.au