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Fostering Blog | Mixed feelings

Monday’s Fostering Blog

I have really mixed feelings about swimming lessons.  On the one hand it is amazing to see a child that is usually confined to a wheelchair having such freedom in the water. Alice is in a preschool swim class. Ordinarily this might be a problem but as she is the size of an average 3 1/2 year old she doesn’t look any different to the children who are in her class.

The swimming teacher has the patience of a saint. He quickly recognised some of her attachment issues and seems to be on the ball. He has identified the areas of swimming that she will struggle with  – mainly that of jumping in, kicking her legs and so on. During these times when the other children are being tested in this area he gets Alice to be his “helper”. This seems to keep her keep her pre-occupied and she doesn’t question it.

In the swimming pool she doesn’t look disabled she doesn’t look any different to the other children in her class. It is lovely to see the freedom that water gives her as she floats and uses her arms to propel herself forward or back.

On the flip side of this, swimming lessons for me are really hard work. Getting a disabled child into a swimming costume is pretty difficult when she is dry, however pealing it off a wet paralysed child is nigh on impossible. There is also lots of lifting involved – in and out of the wheelchair, to the pool and out again, to the shower and back again. By the time we leave, my back is definitely feeling it.

Little attention seems to be given to disabled changing facilities. The shower has been broken for weeks and sprays more water out of the hose than actually out of the shower head. I leave the swimming pool looking like I intended to have a shower.  And then there are those blue plastic overshoes that you have to put over your shoes while you are poolside. If it wasn’t for the fact that every adult was wearing them you would be very self-conscious. As it is, you can rest in the knowledge that you all look ridiculous.

Alice looks forward to her lessons every week she is so disappointed when for one reason or another she is unable to go. I love seeing the joy that it brings her. The smile on her face while she was in the pool is the only thanks I’m ever likely to get. And seeing her smile – just for that one moment – is enough.

A Less Ordinary Family Foster Care Blog