It has often been said that sport is the great equaliser.
And, nothing could be closer to the truth for a group of Great Lakes College, Tuncurry campus students who look forward with excitement and anticipation to weekly swimming sessions.
Held at the Forster Private Hospital hydrotherapy pool, the swimming sessions have been designed to cater for the school's special needs students in Years 8-9
Special education support unit teacher, Emily Wilde said the classes were held for students who typically were unable to access the Great Lakes Aquatic and Leisure Centre (YMCA) like their peers.
Ms Wilde said the students had varying degrees of disabilities, including a couple who were wheelchair bound and needed a hoist to assist them into the water.
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"The hospital has been generous in offering their facilities," Ms Wilde said.
She said swimming in the hydrotherapy pool gave the children's body a break or a rest.
Returning last week for the first time since the coronavirus tightened restrictions on many school activities, there was laughter and squeals of enthusiasm as the teenagers got ready to enter the water.
Swimming began last year after the hospital was approached by the Cape Hawke Association asking the hospital if the pool could be made available to the kids, Ms Wilde said.
She explained water buoyancy was very therapeutic and helpful for their young bodies.
It has been wonderful, it has given them a sense of being able to do sport like able-bodied kids.Emily Wilde
"We noticed an immediate improvement after they started.
"It has been wonderful, it has given them a sense of being able to do sport like able-bodied kids."
Mum and helper, Cass Thomas said the sessions had been a tremendous help for her 13-year-old daughter, Carli.
"They hydrotherapy is really good for her muscles," Mrs Thomas said.
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"She enjoys it so much."
Carli, who feels the cold, relished the warm water.
Carli suffers from an extremely rare genetic condition which began to become noticeable when she was about three years old.
"As far as we known she is the only one in Australia, and there are only 17 in the world."
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