Lisa Bordin knows first-hand how difficult it can be for children with a disability to be part of group swimming classes. Her son Kyzen has optic-nerve hypoplasia -- he was born blind in both eyes.
The Mounties Group fitness co-ordinator and senior operations supervisor had enrolled Kyzen in swimming lessons near her home but the instructors "weren't really sure what to do and how to adapt the lessons to him".
"We also had stares and comments from some parents who were unhappy with Kyzen disrupting their kids when he had sensory meltdowns," she said. "It was best just to remove him."
Kyzen has been accepted by the Rainbow Club. Established more than 50 years ago, the club staff believe children with a disability have the right to learn to swim, be safe and have fun and freedom in the water.
The Swim the Rainbow program was designed to teach these children individually using structure, reward and progress in a social, fun and supportive aquatic environment.
The charity recently got a boost with Mounties approving a grant so the Rainbow Club can host swim lessons at the modern Mounties Ignite Health & Fitness Centre and also subsidise the cost of lessons.
There are 30 students signed up and that number is anticipated to increase to almost 50. "Knowing the Rainbow Club instructors actually want to teach children with additional needs was a big draw card.
"In addition, the fact the other parents and carers are in the same boat as us and won't judge us or our son made it much less scary to try swimming again.
"All children need to have water safety and survival skills and we are really looking forward to Kyzen developing these through Rainbow Club."