What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Letter to the Killarney Swim Centre (Carlile Swimming Centre)

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)
My mobile number


Susan W said...

I echo this request.
Pleae, can you allow BooBoo to swim in the the big pool?
Where is your risk based on the cirmstances Heike mentions?

Lauren Russell said...

As a trained swimming coach, I agree with Heike, please let her swim in the big pool!!!

Anonymous said...

I have just read about BooBoo's crisis at your swimming centre.

I have a child who also has a disability and I am appalled at your lack of consideration for this child's emotional wellbeing.

For people with disabilities, sport is one of the main ways for them to receive self fulfilment - if given the chance - by the right people.

Are you the right people?

Please don't make this child's life so miserable - it also impacts on her entire family - and you can't even imagine what they go through on a daily basis - even without the people of this world trying to stop them from achieving their dreams.

So disappointed in you all.

Jane Charlton

Sanchia said...

Beautifully written Heike and I hope the pool can see its way to making this possible for your daughter.
BTW, I am a friend of Carrie Holms.

Renee Munoz said...

Such loving words from an every day Mum just wanting to help her child realise her dreams. I hope Carlile Swimming Centre is able to support Booboo especially since her mum is willing to be there with her. Doesn't seem like a risk to me. Go Booboo!

Ilona said...

I know the excitement when my son came home from swimming and had moved to the big pool. I can't imagine the tears if he were the only child in the class not allowed to move up. Hope Carlile Swimming listens Heike.

Anonymous said...

As the parent of a child with a disability that directly affects her ability to swim, if your child has an aide or if you are willing to go in she should have the opportunity to do so. Wish I had a solution for mine. xoxo @rnrgirl

Anonymous said...

I am a Grandparent of two children at your pool.They both get so much confidence and great self esteem knowing they have improved and have gone up a class.This child needs this worth off improving for her own self esteem. With no apparent risk involved lets hope we see her with her friends.Nanny.

Anonymous said...

Carlyle Swimming is the worst teaching school. They are about money rather than ensuring a child's progress.