A Wild West theme descended on West Wallsend Swim Centre where an aqua-fitness program for people with physical and intellectual disabilities took place.
Set up just outside of Newcastle, New South Wales, Lake Macquarie City Council received funding for the classes from Swimming Australia’s Community Swimming Grants Program.
The community swimming grants are funded by Sport Australia’s $28.9 million Move It AUS Participation Grants Program. Swimming Australia has aimed their funds towards increasing physical activity and reducing barriers to participation for people with disabilities and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Lake Macquarie City Council’s Business Development Manager, Anna Smith, says the grant has helped provide the community with a range of specific equipment suited for people with disabilities.
“We knew that we wanted to do something for our local persons with disabilities because there wasn’t a lot in that space in our area,” Smith said.
“As part of the Move It AUS community swimming grant from Swimming Australia, we were able to buy a lot of specialised equipment. So having that equipment that we can move around and incorporate across the city means that the program, and the capacity to deliver programs like this, isn’t limited to this particular suburb or this particular pool.
“We can really service the whole city. So it’s a real win for the community.”
The program took place over eight weeks complete with cowboy hats, water pistols and music to give it a fun western theme for participants.
“We figured that we would be a little bit cheeky and bring in some fun songs and some props and some themes that we could use to engage and to motivate the participants each week,” Smith added.
Sunnyfield Disability Services Manager, Lisa Barrett, says the program has made a very important step in the community.
“Being from Lake Mac - where we are surrounded by water - it is really, really important to have programs like this available in our community,” Barrett said.
“Quite a few of our participants have low-level physical ability. Their time they’ve spent in the pool with [fitness instructor,] Cyndi, has built strength.”
“The more staff and the more people we have trained in working with people with disabilities, the better it breaks down the barriers. The stigma and the fear around people with disabilities, it’s better for us. It’s better for the community.”
The 45-minute program was a popular hit for the locals with every class completely booked out by clients of Sunnyfield Disability Services.
Avid participant Bradley Rowe says he relished the time spent with his peers in the pool.
“It’s a good opportunity for people to come in with a disability and have a go. [I’m] spending time with my friends and coming here with mates.
“Coming here is a great success.”
To learn more about Swimming Australia’s Community Swimming Grants Program, click here where you can find out about the funding and recipients.