ON SUNDAY 131 swimmers took to the water at YMCA Hawkesbury Oasis to ‘Dive In and Help Out’, surpassing the centre’s target with a total of more than $14,500 raised to help kids with disabilities learn to swim.
The total included $2,000 that was generously donated by Windsor RSL.
Across the state, more than 25 YMCA-managed pools took part in the event, with national online donations climbing to $112,000 by the day’s end.
All money raised in NSW will stay local to fund vital swimming and water-safety lessons for people living with a disability.
Michelle Josephson, centre manager at YMCA Hawkesbury Oasis, was ecstatic with the result and thanked the community for coming down and taking part in the event.
“Last year we raised approximately $7000, so to increase that total this year was a great achievement for Oasis,” she said.
“This money will go directly to ensure those living with a disability in the local community have the opportunity to learn to swim.”
One child who will benefit from the funds raised is seven-year-old Rylan Gardiner, who, because of his autism and dyspraxia in speech, is unable to participate in group swimming lessons at the centre.
“Rylan has a short attention span and other health issues so the 20 minute private sessions per week are great. There isn’t a set structure and the staff caters specifically for Rylan’s needs – his mood and what he is willing to do that day”, said Rylan’s mother, Kelly.
“Rylan has always found water fascinating – it’s not uncommon to find him playing with the bubblers at school. It’s great to have the staff at Oasis educating him about water safety and awareness, not only teaching him to swim.”
Rylan began one-on-one lessons at Oasis after being approached by aquatic education team leader Joanne Fancey who recognised his anxiety when surrounded by the commotion and noise of the usual afternoon Learn-to-Swim class.
“Water safety and awareness is important for children like Rylan as they may not always be aware of their situation,” Fancey said.
“He knows that if he can’t touch the bottom of the pool with his toes to turn around and paddle back to the water’s edge.”
It may be too late to Dive In but it is definitely not too late to Help Out, with donations for the YMCA Swimathon being accepted until March 31.
To ensure more children like Rylan have the opportunity to learn to swim, visit www.ymcaswimathon.org.au or YMCA Hawkesbury Oasis and make a donation.