Mountain Kids Swim Lessons is now the first Autism Swim approved provider in Western Canada!
Building on my experience working as a Behaviour Interventionist/Support Worker with Autistic kids, being neurodivergent myself, as well as teaching swimming lessons to over a dozen more over the last few years, this professional development training has reinforced my learning and added more skills and approaches to my toolbelt. I am always ready to learn more ways to support kids in our community!
Prioritized swimmers including neurodivergent (Autistic, ADHD, etc.) and other high-risk and vulnerable populations are given a 24-hour boost to their registration every set. Autistic swimmers for example, are 160 times more likely to drown than their neurotypical peers, so it imperative they have access to swim lessons right away. Many swimmers with disabilities have little to no options in the valley to access swim lessons that meet their complex needs, so Mountain Kids Swim Lessons is doing their best to provide a calm environment and flexible learning options to help them thrive.
If you feel your child's neurotype, disability or medical condition limits their ability to participate in other aquatic options available in our community, please feel free to reach out to discuss their options further. Currently nearly half of the kids I teach are neurodivergent or have another disability, and funding can be used to pay for your lessons.
Mountain Kids Swim Lessons' vision is for all children across Canada, to learn to swim well, without barriers to accessibility.
Our mission is to provide fun, kind and quality Swim Lessons to all kids of the Kootenays, that build trust, self-confidence and a connection with the water and the outdoors.
Why are Swim Lessons so important?
According to the Lifesaving Society and Injury Research BC:
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children and near-drowning can result in lengthy hospital stays and can have life-long effects such as brain damage. On average in BC, there are 38 near-drowning cases that resulted in an acute hospitalization and 76 drowning deaths per year.
34% occurred in a lake or pond.
32% while swimming and 12% while walking or playing near the water.
Young children are vulnerable to drowning in artificial bodies of water, including bathtubs and pools, and can drown in as little as 1 inch of water in just a few seconds.
In over 90% of drowning deaths in children, they were unsupervised or the supervisor was distracted.
Mountain Kids Swim Lessons wants every child to have the opportunity to learn how to confidently take action in an emergency, and return to safety.
In my experience in our first year of operation, around 70% of the kids I taught did not know how to swim more than 2 meters independently, float on their back, or tread water for more than 10 seconds. Any one of these skills could buy more precious time to self rescue or call out for help, if they accidently fell into the water off a boat or dock, or are swimming or playing near the water without supervision, and find themselves in trouble.
Every single lesson, with every single swimmer, I ask them spontaneously "I want you to pretend you just fell off a dock into deep water. What can you do?" Then we practice:
Floating on their back in deep water (knowing they can breathe and call out for help)
Treading water for as long as they can (aiming for at least 30-60 seconds)
Pushing off the bottom towards shore (useful when kids go just a little too deep to stand)
Swimming to shore (using low energy movement)
I believe this will make more of a difference than solely teaching kids not to go in the water alone. As they get older, they will inadvertently end up swimming alone with friends, and this way they will know what to do to keep themselves safe and return to shore.