The Manitoba SwimAbility (MSA) summer program returns to Carman Saturday mornings in July and August as a team of local youth volunteers will come together at Carman Dufferin Pool to teach local children with disabilities how to swim.
“We set up in Carman 4 years ago now I believe and I was involved with setting it up but now Ethan Hamm, the pool supervisor, who is responsible for recruiting and organizing volunteers to assist with the programming,” said Sharyne Hamm, Vice President of Manitoba Swim Ability. “He is also in contact with families to help recruit swimmers and advertise for children who may be interested in the program.”
MSA mission is to provide affordable and accessible swimming lessons for children with disabilities and where we focus in particular is water safety. There have been studies that say children with autism are 3-times more likely to drown, and the basis of the program is teaching those water safety skills to children with physical and intellectual disabilities so there is some understanding of water safety.
“Kids also get to go in the water and have some 1-on-1 time with an instructor,” she said. “It’s great for both the child and the instructor to have some time interacting and socializing. It’s a benefit to Carman because in the rural area there isn’t that many supports for families who may have a child with some type of disability, so it’s great to bring our programming to the rural areas to help these families in need.”
Carman’s program is already pretty established at this point with around 20 swimmers taking part. Volunteering and swimmers can register at the Manitoba Swim Ability website. A new program is getting started in Winkler and volunteers are needed to get things going.
“We still need volunteers in Winkler as well so we’re hoping we can get some people out to help get this program off the ground and help people in that area as well,” added Hamm.
Carman and Winkler run summer lessons through July and August with seven weeks of lessons in Carman on Saturday mornings. Each swimmer gets half hour of 1-on-1 time with the instructor and lesson times are an hour long.
MSA is a charitable organization run primarily by volunteers and aims to provide affordable and accessible one-on-one swimming lessons to Manitoba children with special needs. Lessons are taught by volunteer instructors. Most of the volunteers are high school and university students who provide the children with a fun, personalized, and safe learning environment. Carman’s 2019 summer session of Swim Ability programming will begin this Saturday.
Manitoba has some of the highest drowning rates in the country, especially for young people. Children with special needs are particularly vulnerable to drowning, and a lack of swimming lessons that are both affordable and meet the personalized needs of this segment of the population only adds to this issue. SwimAbility programs aim to change this statistic through water safety and basic swimming instruction.
Carman’s Manitoba SwimAbility program is actively recruiting new volunteers for the program. With every one new full-time volunteer instructor who donates their time to Carman’s Manitoba SwimAbility program, an additional two individual swimmers have the opportunity to access the programming.
No swim instruction experience is necessary, volunteers comfortable in the water and want to help teach can attend a SwimAbility training session. Volunteers can apply online at manitoba.swimability.org.