YMCA offering lessons for special needs

Alexis Ray helps one of the Adaptive Swim Lesson students get comfortable in a pool and to overcome the fear of putting her face in the water. (Advance photo)

Optimists sponsoring lessons that may save the life of a young child

It looks like a lot of warm, watery fun as the winter winds blow outside, but the Adaptive Swim Lessons offered by the Wichita YMCA may save lives.
Senior Program Director Kasey Williams said drowning is one of the leading causes of death for people with autism. “So, these lessons are for safety reasons and for comfort reasons.”

Williams said the swim lessons may also help some individuals who suffer from sensory overload. “Maybe they’ll never swim, but maybe they can enjoy the water. It’s also good, physical activity for some kids who are not that mobile.”

Each case is different, she said, as are the goals.

“If the YMCA is going to be for all, our goal is to truly serve each child the best that we can and get them where they need to be,” Williams said.
One of her favorite duties related to the program are the consultations with the children, she said. “I get to see them first before they go into the group lessons. When you’re in your office all day long it’s a lot more fun to go play as a kid.”

Myra Jacobs, director of the diocesan Ministry With Persons With Disabilities, said the YMCA reached out to the ministry to inquire if any clients would be interested in the program.

“We may have missed getting the word out to everyone, so please give Kasey a ring if you are interested – she will make the process of enrolling easy for you,” Jacobs said.

The Adaptive Swim Lessons are offered at the West YMCA. The program is sponsored by the West Optimist Club. Williams said the Optimists are making it possible for the Y to offer the class at no fee for participants.

“It’s 2020 and those extracurricular activities is tougher – especially if you need to choose between putting food on the table or swim lessons, then obviously, food is going to win out.”

The West Y hopes to hit the ground running in January with up to a dozen participants.

Want to participate?

Adaptive Swim Lessons are for those with behavioral, communication, sensory, physical, or other challenges who would not respond to traditional lessons or who need special assistance. For information email [email protected].