With help from a Grant from Y-USA the Shasta Family YMCA has launched a new swim lesson program for youth with diverse abilities. The program is aimed at helping children with both physical and mental disabilities gain confidence in the water as well as pick up valuable water skills.
Due to the grant money received from Y-USA every newly enrolled student will receive a $100 credit which covers the first 3 sessions of lessons. That adds up to three months of lessons completely free of charge.
Ayisha Bledsoe is a former special education teacher in the area with 2 boys enrolled in the program.
“There’s not a lot of resources in this area for children that are disabled... my kids are being able to participate in something I never thought possible,” says Bledsoe.
She also believes that she can see the benefits of the program every time she brings her boys to the pool, “I was always in the water with him (her son) but with this program I can let my kid have that same experience as every other kid he sees at the pool. The days my boys have their lessons are days where they sleep better, they eat better, they feel better.”
Currently the Y has enrolled 20 children in the program and has the capacity to enroll an additional 30 children. Each class employs a one-on-one private lesson model and are offered in the mornings or early evenings. Instructors are hand selected and given specialized training to ensure they can provide the best experience to their students.
Matthew Mendoza, the head instructor of the program that was responsible for selecting and training the other instructors believes that as the program grows it can have a deep impact on the disabled children in the community.
“The Program can greatly impact the kids by opening up opportunities for them in the aquatic community. It creates an environment of inclusiveness that allows these kids to thrive within their communities,” says Mendoza.
The Shasta Family YMCA is excited to be launching this program and we cannot wait to see it grow and help kids with disabilities across the community.