Melbourne’s Windy Hill Fitness Centre will open exclusively for the autism community with a family swim night organised by charity Different Journeys on February 26. The intention is to gradually expose autistic people to all aspects of the aquatic environment.
Different Journeys Autism co-founder, Mel Spencer says there are many obstacles that prevent autistic people from learning to swim.
“Simply trying to get in the water can be a challenge for some while others find new faces and spaces overwhelming,” she Spencer.
Statistics released by Autism Swim indicate that children living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are 160 times more likely to drown than their neurotypical peers. However, events like family swim night could provide life-saving tools and skills for the autistic community, their families and carers.
“The centre’s staff and management, also gain a better understanding of how to move forward with adaptive swimming options,” Spencer says.
An introductory communication ahead of event day via visual support includes a photographic storybook with photos of the pool area, swim instructors, lifeguards and attendees.
The charity is in discussion with facility management company Bluefit Group to roll out the program to include additional aquatic centres. The family swim nights are scheduled to run once a month until June 2022.
The event costs $10 per person and is open to all ages and includes a BBQ dinner. Register online at: www.differentjourneysautism.com/new-events/