My young daughter BooBoo attends your swimming lessons as part of her school swimming with her school. BooBoo is six years old and has cerebral palsy. She is a wheelchair user, she cannot stand or walk unassisted. The beauty of water is that much of these concerns disappear - and BooBoo can experience freedom of movement. As her balance is affected by her CP she has difficulty swimming unaided. She's close to swimming herself, but for now, she is totally capable of swimming with the aid of arm floaties. You should see her go (attached video), you can see she loves it!
Yet, she cries after coming home from school swimming and doesn't want to come to your swim centre any more.
You see, the swimming instructors placed her in the shallow training pool. That was fine last year, while much of her class was in there too. But this year, they have all moved on into the big pool. BooBoo however, is still in the “baby pool” as she calls it.
And therein lies the rub. BooBoo wants to be with her friends. In the big pool. I’ve tried to explain that you have her safety in mind but she’s feels she’s being punished because she’s not learning to swim fast enough. Because she loves it so much she’s asking to be in the pool at home, even when it’s cold. She’s doing all she can to get into the big pool with her friends.
BooBoo also attends The Rainbow Club where she receives swimming lessons from Ausswim instructors qualified in teaching kids with special needs. I do not expect you to teach BooBoo how to swim - I would just like her to be included in that age old Australian tradition of having a go.
Last Monday I came along and Michelle allowed me to take her into the big pool. BooBoo loved it! But as we came out we were told that no, BooBoo could not swim there and would have to go back in the shallow training pool. BooBoo was very upset and told me " it’s because of my CP and it's not fair. I do not want to go there again!"
I understand you have guidelines to determine when kids can move in to the big pool - but in BooBoo case she may never reach the traditional tick-boxes and still be in the shallow pool when she's 64.
I know you you’re not seeking to punish her for having CP - which is why I’m looking for a way forward and include her with her classmates in the big pool. Having read about your positive and inclusive swimming philosophy on your website, I am sure you are keen to support BooBoo in this.
With her floaties on, she can swim just fine. She does so at home. She has an aide with her in the water at all times. If must be, I can come myself and be in the water with her. I can take full responsibility for her safety - and would be willing to sign a piece of paper to that extent.
Please, could you allow BooBoo to swim in the big pool?
Heike Fabig (aka BooBoo's mum)
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