It will be water pistols at 10 paces when a new Lake Macquarie City Council aqua fitness program targeting people with disability kicks off in April at West Wallsend Swim Centre.
(Above L-R Richard Cruikshanks, Taylah Riley and Jamie Lewis-Hughes dive in to the new program)
The eight-week ‘Wild West’ program will see participants take part in weekly 45-minute themed aqua-fitness classes, complete with cowboy hats, water pistols, floats and other swim equipment made for people with physical and intellectual disability.
Acting Manager Leisure Services Paul Stone said the program would be funded via a $9600 Community Swimming Grant provided by the Australian Government and swimming’s governing body, Swimming Australia.
“While all of our aqua fitness classes are accessible for most people in the community, offering classes tailored for people with disability helps build participants’ confidence in the water,” Mr Stone said.
“It’s also a fantastic social outlet, contributing to ongoing mental and physical wellbeing.”
The Swimming Australia grant will also fund ‘access and inclusion’ training for eight Council staff, helping improve their understanding of accessibility issues and needs.
Council will partner with local NDIS provider Sunnyfield Disability Services to present the Wild West program.
While the West Wallsend Wild West classes are already booked out by Sunnyfield clients, similar initiatives at other swim centres across the City could be rolled out down the track, depending on funding and demand.
Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said Community Swimming Grants helped provide more active opportunities for Australians, regardless of ability, background, age or location.
“It’s about getting Australians active, but also about building inclusivity, social cohesion and stronger communities,” Mr Colbeck said.
Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell said the more people who had access to swim lessons and water safety training, the better.
“Swimming is such a vital life skill, and I know this funding will go a long way in promoting and facilitating these skills to those most at risk in the community,” Ms Russell said.