Why Kailee’s sailing along

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
Kailee Cook, 7 with swim instructor Melissa McCabe.
Camera IconKailee Cook, 7 with swim instructor Melissa McCabe. Credit: Chloe Fraser

Kailee Cook couldn’t swim independently a year ago, but now the seven-year-old is more confident in the water than ever before thanks to a specialised access and inclusion swimming program at Kwinana Requatic.

The SAIL Program teaches basic water safety skills for people living with intellectual, physical or behavioural impairments and allows one-on-one attention with instructors to help them gain confidence in the water.

The program is subsidised through Royal Life Saving WA’s Swim and Survive fund. Kwinana Requatic on-deck supervisor Lynette Farley said Kwinana Requatic was grateful to have secured a grant for Term 1, but more funding was needed to ensure those with special needs had the opportunity to learn vital swimming and water safety skills.

“We have a waitlist of people trying to get into the program,” she said. “It would be great to be able to provide more places, but without the funding it’s not possible.”

Ms Farley said the program’s main goal was to get swimmers comfortable in the water with the aim of integrating them into mainstream lessons. The program has benefited many families in Kwinana with more than 100 children taking part in the specialised lessons over the past few years and all 40 places filled for the upcoming term.

Kailee, pictured, has Down Syndrome and has been swimming as part of the SAIL program for nearly two years.

Her mum, Janette, said she had seen “incredible improvements” in her daughter’s swimming ability

, water confidence and her gross and fine motor skills.

Mrs Cook said the individualised lessons provided by the SAIL program meant Kailee could continue to develop her strengths instead of being hindered by her weaknesses.

“Quite often children with disabilities have sensory issues, are distracted by their surrounds and sometimes have behavioural issues too, so it’s about catering to her needs,” she said.

“Kailee wasn’t able to continue in the mainstream program in an age appropriate class because she needed a little more attention than her peers.”

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