The Napier Aquatic Centre has funding approved from the Tū Manawa Trust (Sport Hawke’s Bay) to run a water safety and confidence programme for children who are neuro-diverse and have too many barriers to access mainstream swimming lessons.
Funding of $4,000 was approved on September 19, although additional funding is still needed.
If funding is secured, the next phase will begin in Term 4, working with agencies and schools to create the programme and its resources, train Napier Aquatic Centre staff, with lessons likely to begin in Term 1 next year.
Manager Sports and Recreation Glenn Lucas said the lessons will be provided by the Swim Instructors at the Napier Aquatic Centre Swim School.
Lucas said the programme was designed specifically for tamariki with neuro-diversities such as autism.
Tamariki who are not neuro-diverse were well catered for through the centre’s Learn to Swim programmes, he said.
“Our Swim School instructors are all qualified through Swimming New Zealand, and work closely with Water Safety New Zealand. Napier Aquatic Centre and Napier City Council believe that increased water confidence and competence of our community is important not just for saving lives, but to enable the lifelong love of and participation in water-based activities.”
The aim of the initiative is to remove or reduce as many barriers as possible for neuro diverse tamariki (children) so they may access the same ‘learn to swim’ programs mainstream children have.
The proposal outlined at the Napier City Council meeting would include running six lessons a week (a mix of individual and small group) for 40 weeks (School Term time).
The initial plan is to have three groups with low numbers (2-4 tamariki of similar age and requirements) and three groups with one-on-one coaching.
The centre predicted approximately 12 tamariki per term, aged between 5 and 12 years of age.
This initiative falls under the Napier Council Strategic Priorities as it is allowing accessibility for neuro diverse tamariki and their whānau to gain water safety and confidence lessons.
It will provide a safe physical and emotional environment for the tamariki as well as reducing the financial barrier to whānau.
The lessons will be in Allen’s Pool at the Napier Aquatic Centre. It’s a fully contained heated pool with its own entrance and changing rooms away from the general public.
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