WINNIPEG – Beck Long, 13, is making a big splash at Seven Oaks Pool, where he is learning to swim.
Long is one of 125 kids taking part in Making Waves, a program that provides one-one-one lessons with volunteer instructors who teach kids with intellectual and physical disabilities how to swim.
Long was born with Down syndrome.
“He has managed pretty well in every aspect in terms of what he does in his day, and manages to get people to fall in love with him pretty quickly, actually,” said his dad, Todd Long.
“There’s a lot of things that can go together in a lesson,” said Cameron Krisko, president and founder of Making Waves Winnipeg. “It can’t all be formalized instruction either. There’s got to be some time for fun, some time for games.”
Learning to swim isn’t the only benefit to the lessons.
“He has to get himself ready, he has to pack his bags,” his dad told Global News. “He has to get himself dressed and undressed in the pool, he has to shower and make sure that he shampoos and stuff like that, so a lot of those independence type skills.”
With the one-on-one time, instructors are able to focus on every child’s abilities and needs.
“We are going to cater the lesson to your child’s needs, to your child’s abilities, to your child’s specific requirements and to any goals that you may have for your child,” said Krisko.
“What we’d really like to be able to see is to have him swim with no floatation device and to be able to put him in a pool so that he can swim a lap without even having an adult necessarily in the water with him,” said Todd Long. “As far as swimming goes, he’s willing to try just about anything.”
Which includes jumping into the deep end.