My son Martin is now 29 years old and has been a member of the club for more than 23 years. He has very severe learning disabilities and autism. Swimming is one of the most important things in Martin’s life.
We found out about Halliwick Penguins when we wished to go swimming and found that the pool was being used by a club for people with disabilities. We applied to join and have never looked back.
From an early age, Martin made it clear he loved being in the water. As a keen swimmer myself, I desperately wanted him to discover the joy of swimming, in spite of his severe learning disabilities. Martin has always been very fearful of loud noises and unpredictable actions, so public swimming sessions were impossible for him to cope with.
When we joined the club, Martin was allocated an individual instructor, who used the Halliwick Concept to gradually increase his confidence, teaching safety and independence in the water. In just over a year, he was able to swim without any support. The look of joy on his face as he experienced the freedom of the water was wonderful to see.
Over the years, I have trained as an instructor and work in the water with other swimmers, as well as Martin. Martin still has extremely severe learning difficulties and is unable to communicate verbally. He swims every Saturday afternoon with the club and his swimming gives him the opportunity to be totally uninhibited and free of fear. It means so very much to all our family. Martin is now an excellent swimmer and regularly takes part in the club’s sponsored swims.
Halliwick Penguins is a wonderful club, available to any person with a disability. It is run totally by volunteers, for whom I have so much respect. We have made some friends for life, and I am truly grateful for the work of instructors and supporters.
I know of many people who could benefit from being able to swim with Halliwick Penguins, but we have to limit the membership as we do not have enough instructors and helpers. So if anyone out there wishes to support us, please get in touch - you really are needed, and you will gain so much satisfaction from knowing that you are making a genuine difference to people’s lives!