More opportunities for children with disabilities to learn to swim

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Greater numbers of children with disabilities in South Ayrshire are being supported to learn to swim through inclusion in mainstream classes.

The National Learn to Swim Framework, a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water, which is delivered by South Ayrshire Council across four pools in the region aims to ensure children of all abilities can become confident, competent and safer swimmers.

A report by Scottish Swimming reveals that 70 per cent of current participants with a disability who attend the Learn to Swim programme in South Ayrshire attend mainstream classes, which not only develops their swimming ability but also enhances their confidence, social skills and communication.

The hope is that even more children with disabilities will be encouraged to learn to swim thanks to a new Scottish Swimming inclusion campaign called #SeeMyAbility, which builds on existing inclusion work with clubs and the performance pathway.

Katie Campbell, Aquatics Development officer at South Ayrshire Council, said: “We are proud of the opportunities that we provide for young people and adults with disabilities.”

“We have trained coaches who have come through our disability pathway to now coach and pass on their knowledge to younger generations.

“Our Learn to Swim programme underlines the importance of our facilities which are transforming lives and helping people from all walks of life to achieve their ambitions.”

Learn to Swim ambassador and World Para Swimming World Champion Toni Shaw 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.”

Gavin MacLeod, CEO at Scottish Disability Sport, added: “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.”