More opportunities for children with disabilities to learn to swim

by Raymond Notarangelo

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

#SeeMyAbility campaign helps children with disabilities learn to swim

A public sector PR photo of Learn to Swim ambassador Toni Shaw with children on the programme.

CHILDREN with disabilities are being encouraged to learn to swim thanks to a new Inclusion campaign called #SeeMyAbility, focusing on ability rather than disability.

The National Learn to Swim Framework, a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water, which is delivered by Leisure Trusts and aquatic providers across Scotland is enabling children of all abilities to become confident, competent and safer swimmers.

According to an independent evaluation by Randak and Best in 2018 with 5300 parent responses, 84 per cent of children with disabilities attend mainstream Learn to Swim classes which not only develop their swimming ability but also enhance their confidence, social skills and communication.

The #SeeMyAbility campaign focuses on ability as opposed to disability and builds on existing inclusion work by Scottish Swimming with clubs and the performance pathway.

All Scottish Swimming performance centres have athletes with a disability and Scottish athletes won nine medals at the recent World Para Swimming Championships in London. This reflects the increased depth of Scottish Athletes attending major championship trials with 13 Scots attending World Trials in 2006 in comparison to 32 attending World Championship Trials in 2019.

The #SeeMyAbility campaign, which turns our attention to inclusion within Learn to Swim, was launched on 19th November by Learn to Swim ambassador and World Para Swimming World Champion Toni Shaw.

Toni said: “I’m really proud to be an ambassador for the Learn to Swim Framework and really pleased that children with a disability are taught in inclusive learn to swim environments.

“It’s great to develop as a swimmer and be seen beyond my disability. This has enabled me integrate into a performance environment where I get to train alongside other world-class athletes.”

Euan Lowe, CEO at Scottish Swimming said: “Scottish Swimming’s vision is ‘everyone can swim’ and learning to swim is an activity for all regardless of ability or disability, and the whole swimming pathway can be taught in an inclusive way. If teachers are aware of a child’s disability then lessons or activities can be adapted.

“Swimming is an important life skill and can be great fun in a group environment. This should be no different for a child with a disability.”

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs, Scottish Water, said: “We are delighted to be supporting such an inclusive programme allowing children with disabilities to develop an essential key life skill, have fun and have equal access to opportunities.

“Inclusion is an important part of ensuring our children flourish in Scotland and can enjoy themselves and be safe in and around water.”

Over two-thirds (70%) of swim teachers teach children with disabilities, and a large majority (80%) felt both confident and competent in doing so but there is still more work to do. As part of the #SeeMyAbility campaign, Leisure Trusts and aquatic providers have been given a toolkit to support and help swimming instructors teach in an inclusive way.

Gavin MacLeod, CEO at Scottish Disability Sport, said: “It’s great to see Scottish Swimming as a sport’s governing body, committed to and actively delivering their sport in an inclusive way and this is particularly prominent with their work around the Learn to Swim Framework and engagement with local partners.”

The National Learn to Swim Framework aims to raise standards and achieve consistency in swimming programmes across Scotland.

More information on the National Learn to Swim Framework and #SeeMyAbility can be found on the dedicated website: www.learntoswim.scot

 

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    Raymond Notarangelo

    Raymond Notarangelo, co-founded Scottish PR agency, Holyrood PR after spotting a gap for colourful and innovative public relations in Edinburgh. He now leads a team providing media relations, social media, video, photography, brand newsrooms, crisis communication and media relations.

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