YMCA program to help kids thrive

Kids with diverse abilities learn fitness, water safety and teamwork

ymcalogoThe torches may have been doused, but Rio 2016’s fever hasn’t left for some kids who were glued to the action last summer. Now, with a recent grant to YMCA of Greater Brandywine from Autism Speaks, even more children with diverse abilities will be able to channel their Olympic inspiration into improving their swimming skills.

The grant, earmarked specifically for the Y of Greater Brandywine’s Kennett and Jennersville branches, provides swimming scholarships for children with autism, and will make even more accessible the selection of the Y’s services for those with diverse abilities.

Ensuring that all members of the community can have access to opportunities for fitness, personal growth and community involvement has been a focus of the YMCA since its founding.

Nicholas Pincin, aquatics director for the Kennett branch, acknowledged that availability of adapted programs falls short nationwide, “and certainly in Chester County there aren’t as many as there need to be.”

As a result, the grant will come in handy to help expand the swimming programs in two areas of the county where there’s a particular need.

The nod from Autism Speaks also helps draw attention to the variety of adapted programs the Y offers beyond swimming.

Branches throughout the Y of Greater Brandywine system feature opportunities to participate in the arts and other programs such as fitness, personal training, tennis and other activities. 

For instance, the Upper Main Line Y has a vaunted swim team, the Y Knot Otters; the branch’s competitive aquatics director served on the 2016 U.S. Paralympics coaching staff in Rio.

In addition, the Lionville and Kennett branches feature the Open Doors program on Friday nights, an opportunity for those with diverse needs to socialize in a structured environment.

Programs here and elsewhere across the association benefit children and parents alike, and financial assistance is available for families who qualify. 

Paul Griffith, 7, has autism, and he and his dad, Steve, participate in both the Tuesday night fitness class and the Friday night swimming in Jennersville. Griffith said both he and his wife, Michelle, have seen the positive results in their son as a result of the Y programming.

“I see Paul getting more in the rhythm of things every week,” he said. “You can see that all the kids are having a good time and they’re learning to exercise and have fun at the same time. It’s a program where both the parents and the helpers are in tune with special needs kids.”

As for the swimming, Griffith said he appreciates both the safety element for Paul, who took to the water at 3 years old, and the opportunity for a different, lower impact type of exercise.

“The kids really become comfortable in the water and they love it,” he said. “I see a lot of good things happening there.”

Visit our website to find out more about the YMCA of Greater Brandywine’s adapted programming, or call your nearest Y branch for details.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment