The Abilities United Betty Wright Swim Center plunges into 2013 with a pilot training program to expand teaching skills for swim instructors and create life-saving learning opportunities for children with disabilities.

The four-day course, “Skills for the Future: Using the Pool as a Classroom”, runs January 7-10 and will be taught by experts in adapted aquatics, special education, swimming instruction, with input from community support group participants.  Renowned practitioners in the field, including Dori Maxon PT, PCS, MEd of SNAP (Special Needs Aquatic Program) will deliver lectures and in-water training.

Children with disabilities are estimated to be eight times more likely to drown than their peers. This is a staggering statistic considering that drownings are already the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4, three children die every day as a result of drowning – according to the Center for Disease Control – and that youth with disabilities are generally kept under closer supervision. The Betty Wright Swim Center is determined to change that statistic and is spearheading drowning prevention education for all, with special attention toward kids who are most at risk.
“This course has immense benefit for our community”–says Danielle Griffith-Jones, AVAC Swim School Director–“by participating in it, we can make our community safer while also increasing access to swimming for a more diverse audience. It is a unique opportunity to open doors to a wider population and bring swim education and water safety to all”.
This pilot course is the second in a series of training programs the Betty Wright Swim Center has launched last year to advance education in warm-water therapy, exercise, and swim instruction for aquatics educators, as well as to inform the general public about the many options available, and the benefits of, aquatic therapy.
The Abilities United Betty Wright Swim Center has a strategic goal of becoming a national aquatic health and wellness therapy leader by 2014.
“Our role as a local nonprofit aiming to become a model for aquatic programs nationwide” – states Rho Henry Olaisen, Aquatics Director and Social Enterprise Director at Abilities United – “begins with standardizing the industry and providing tomorrow’s practitioners with the skills to perform their work safely and effectively. We train instructors within their scope of practice and integrate the necessary scientific, hands-on, and communication techniques to make aquatic recreational therapy available to all. The outcome is lifelong health improvements for everyone, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, physical and developmental abilities, or background. This pilot program demonstrates our commitment to the values of water safety education for all and community engagement.”
Attendees in the course have been chosen selectively from a pool of top candidates among local swim instructors. Upon completion of the pilot program, they will be able to apply the acquired skills in their classes and help their organizations grow adapted aquatics programs, thus creating more opportunities for children with disabilities to learn how to swim and gain an improved, healthier outlook  on life.
The course, valued at $350 per student, is being offered free of charge to the attendees who passed the application process. Registration is now closed.

Submitted by Wendy Kuehnl, Abilities United Marketing Director