Due to COVID, the non-profit social service agency named ABLE had to pause their swimming classes for stroke survivors, but it is now back! This specialised programme started on 22nd May 2019 and marked the first time an organisation offered swimming classes to adults with disabilities. At the time, the classes opened with eight clients and slowly expanded to serving twelve clients over two sessions weekly. This was to cater to the individualised needs of clients and to adhere to pool capacity restrictions. The swimming programme falls under one of ABLE’s parent programmes, I’mcapABLE. It entails reengagement and leisure exploration for clients who have no prior exposure or would like to relearn the sport.
I’mcapABLE took the collaborative effort of a village to ensure a smooth and safe swim session. Alongside each of the twelve clients, there was one volunteer who sported them. The volunteers are not required to know how to swim as the lessons are done in a learner’s pool. The main role of a volunteer was to do mirror coaching. This meant following what the coach does and ensuring the client is focused and that their form is good. Without this much manpower support and expert coaches, most clients would not be courageous enough to go into the pool alone.
Our clients are happy that we started this programme. The coach is trained to work with people with disabilities. Our clients and family caregivers are eased knowing that a professional is equipped with the skills and has patience to help them.”
– Stephanie Bracken, Programmes Executive
Fast forward to 2022, and ABLE has resumed the highly anticipated swimming sessions. This will be an ongoing programme this year with four cycles consisting of ten sessions each cycle. So far, ABLE is unable to enrol more than four clients at any one time. The lack of volunteer support poses a challenge for the lean team. Many clients have voiced their excitement to return to the pool as it has helped them in the rehabilitation journey. Some even note that their walking has improved since their stroke.
“The aqua activities are done to help clients with their balancing, strength, pain management and serve as a good cardio exercise. As a special needs coach, I find it very meaningful hearing client testimonies on how this programme has improved their daily lifestyle. “Said Michael Soong, Swim Coach.
Each client is given a personalised swimming plan that encourages the use of their weaker side in the water. This focuses on strengthening their muscles and allows them a safe environment to exercise. ABLE clients can also gain water confidence and practice their breath work. The next intake will commence in June, and ABLE is still looking for volunteers to be in the pool with the physically challenged clients, so that more swimming slots can be opened up for clients.
Volunteers are needed every Thursday, 10am-12pm at Pasir Ris Swimming Complex.
Main role of volunteers:
1. Accompany physically-challenged clients 1-to-1 in learners’ swimming pool
2. Assist the Coach in delivery of instructions to clients
3. Mirror instructing
Images: ABLE Singapore