Do Not Hold Us Back: Seeking Accessibility in Hamilton

When I was a teenager I started volunteering with the Adapted Aquatics swim program at Dalewood Recreation Centre. I started going with some friends who, like me, wanted to get out of going to early Sunday morning Mass. My swimming experiences were more of a blessing than church in my opinion; I have blogged about that experience previously.

While participating in the swimming program I learned a lot about the general public’s attitude to disability; for some it was normal and others not so much. I was also struck by the attitude of some of the adults that organized the swim program and how they thought some youth with disabilities would not have ‘normal’ lives. Continue Reading

Adapted Aquatics Lessons

swimming pool funAs a teen, I considered myself fortunate that some of my Catholic friends invited me to the ‘Adapted Aquatics’ swim program for youth with disabilities at the Dalewood Pool. These friends were volunteering through their high-school but more importantly were trying to avoid early Sunday Mass. I was just trying to avoid church. Truthfully, I think the life lessons I learnt in that pool as a volunteer have been as strong as the ones I have learnt later in life when I did return to church.

What I witnessed during those years volunteering was dedication to someone outside oneself, exuberant joy, tears, confidence building and teenage silliness in full force. There was occasionally a bit of pity for those who were ‘different’. The dedication started with the organizers from a local service club, adult leaders, volunteers and families.

There were some tears when a youth could not do something on land. Once in the pool however, there was such a transformation! Some of the youth just wanted to be normal kids with no restrictions, some just wanted to quietly float. Continue Reading