New scheme launches encouraging children with disabilities to learn to swim

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Children with disabilities are being encouraged to learn to swim, thanks to a new Inclusion campaign fronted by a World Para Swimming World Champion.

Toni Shaw is the face of the new #SeeMyAbility campaign which focuses focusing on ability rather than disability.

The National Learn to Swim Framework, hopes to enable children of all abilities to become confident, competent and safer swimmers.

According to an independent study by Randak and Best in 2018, 84% of children with disabilities attend mainstream Learn to Swim classes, which not only develop their swimming ability but also enhance their confidence, social skills and communication.

Toni Shaw with children in the programme – image supplied

The #SeeMyAbility campaign focuses on ability as opposed to disability and builds on existing inclusion work by Scottish Swimming with clubs and the performance pathway.

Toni said: “I’m really proud to be an ambassador for the Learn to Swim Framework and really pleased that children with a disability are taught in inclusive learn to swim environments.

“It’s great to develop as a swimmer and be seen beyond my disability. This has enabled me integrate into a performance environment where I get to train alongside other world-class athletes.”

Euan Lowe, CEO at Scottish Swimming said: “Scottish Swimming’s vision is ‘everyone can swim’ and learning to swim is an activity for all regardless of ability or disability, and the whole swimming pathway can be taught in an inclusive way. If teachers are aware of a child’s disability then lessons or activities can be adapted.

“Swimming is an important life skill and can be great fun in a group environment. This should be no different for a child with a disability.”

Brian Lironi, Director of Corporate Affairs, Scottish Water, said: “We are delighted to be supporting such an inclusive programme allowing children with disabilities to develop an essential key life skill, have fun and have equal access to opportunities.

“Inclusion is an important part of ensuring our children flourish in Scotland and can enjoy themselves and be safe in and around water.”

Over two-thirds of swim teachers teach children with disabilities, and 80% felt both confident and competent in doing so but there is still more work to do.

As part of the #SeeMyAbility campaign, Leisure Trusts and aquatic providers have been given a toolkit to support and help swimming instructors teach in an inclusive way.

Gavin MacLeod, CEO at Scottish Disability Sport, said: “It’s great to see Scottish Swimming as a sport’s governing body, committed to and actively delivering their sport in an inclusive way and this is particularly prominent with their work around the Learn to Swim Framework and engagement with local partners.”