Swimming lessons are part of growing up in Australia, but some kids miss out. Up until now, there have been no swimming lessons in Melbourne for children who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
But the good news is, it’s all changing now.
At Northcote Aquatic & Recreation Centre, the YMCA has started a unique program for the Deaf and hard of hearing and it has already been a great success.
A teenager named Kevin from Clayton started coming last year. The change in him has been remarkable. Kevin is a non-verbal boy whose only way to communicate is by sign language.
When he first arrived at Northcote Aquatic & Recreation Centre, our swim teacher Laura May noticed immediately that Kevin couldn’t even walk unassisted in the water.
In just six months, he has gone from not being able to walk, to swimming 25 metres freestyle - totally on his own.
All of us at YMCA are thrilled to see not just Kevin but many others now swimming for the first time.
Our lessons have given Kevin a new life skill by giving him water exposure in a supportive and familiar environment. If it wasn’t for the YMCA program, Kevin may have never learnt to swim.
Right now, people come from the local area but some come from as far away as Laverton, Rosanna, Coburg and Clayton, because there is nothing else available in Melbourne.
Laura combines her swim teaching skills with her ability to communicate through sign language. Since November 2014, she has been holding one-on-one lessons for Deaf children and adults to teach swimming and water safety skills.
At the YMCA, we believe very strongly there should be no barriers for anyone to learn to swim no matter what their circumstances.