Easter Seal Swim Program This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Easter Seal Swim Program

by C. H., Brookline, MA

Since September, I have led a group of eight Brookline High (BHS) students in an Easter Seals Swim Program at the Brookline Municipal Pool. Each of us works one-on-one with a program participant (children or adults with physical handicaps). Most volunteers work with the same person throughout the 10-week program, helping their partners to increase their flexibility and their swimming skills.

Recruitment was easy for this program. I made announcements during info time at school, but most of my recruits came from the Brookline girls' swim team, where I am a tri-captain. Despite the early hours (the program runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to l p.m), everyone is alert and enthusiastic. Most of us are paired with adults, and we work in the lap pool.

We have two supervisors who help us immensely. Both are named Lisa; one runs the adult program, the other, the kids. Marie Nunn, who coordinates the Easter Seals Swim Program in five communities, met us the first day and is another contact if problems come up. I am impressed with the staff and feel confident that everything is under control. Both Lisas are trained and experienced in the program and facilitate the sessions well.

Lisa, who runs the adult program, provided us with training, where we talked about how to deal with our partners. Everyone seems to be comfortable. We know the limitations of our partners in advance, but it is all right to ask them about their disabilities as well.

Lisa checks in with us when we arrive and fills us in on what we should concentrate on during the session. The hour goes by quickly. I am working with Gwen, an elderly woman with cerebral palsy. Unlike most of the other participants, Gwen is somewhat mentally impaired, but understands people and can communicate easily. She does not swim too much. I hold her when she swims on her back. She walks with a walker and has just begun to walk on her own in the water. This was a major step, and it was exciting to see her make progress.

I am very comfortable in the water, and it has been interesting to work with someone who fears and has limitations in the pool. While I swim competitively, most of the people I see on Saturday cannot make it across the pool. I do not pity them, however, because they are happy with where they are and where they are going. I love seeing how many ways people can interact with the water and have become increasingly interested in its therapeutic uses.

My recruits have been working hard. We have fun and often swim together once our partners leave. We all know our partners pretty well now and enjoy their company.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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