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Swimming gives them ray of hope.

DUBAI: When they thought getting into water was never a possibility, the Australian International Swim Schools (AISS)'s unique project to help disabled people swim seems to be doing wonders.

Other than offering disabled people with special training courses, AISS also ensures swimming brings a sea change in their normal life.

"Swimming has an amazing influence on the quality of life," said AISS managing director Kirk Marks. "For any it provides something where for the first time they can move freely. It also allows them the opportunity to integrate with others and achieve goals and to be fully supported and often move in ways that were not possible before they started swimming," he added.

AISS has been operating in Dubai since 2009 and has been focussed on developing high quality and effective learn to swim programmes using the Australasian Council for Teaching Swimming and Water Safety, AUSTSWIM method of teaching which is recognised as one of the best and most successful in the world.

"We offer disability access programmes through AISS. We often attend peoples' villas so that the participant is in a familiar environment and feels comfortable. For those who are mobile we offer lessons at several venues throughout Dubai including dedicated facilities both indoor and outdoor. Our instructors are all trained to work with people with special needs or those who require additional attention," he explained.

The programmes cover for people suffering from many disabilities including Autism, Asperger's, Dementia, Huntington, Down Syndrome, Depression, Asthma and many more.

"We specifically cater to people who are culturally and linguistically diverse allowing for the most effective learning experience," Kirk said.

AISS also provides specialised training for teachers that give them a thorough knowledge in handling disability swimmers. "We are the training body for AUSTSWIM. We conduct training courses for teachers for disabilities. The course is conducted by industry experts brought in from Australia," said Marks.

The programme has made its beginning only recently in the UAE and Marks said the progress has been slow but encouraging. "I have been working with disability programmes since 1980 and back then I was doing work with James McMillan and the Halliwick Program which was the first formal programme for people with both physical and psychological disorders. James developed the program in 1949 in the UK.

"I was then motivated to work on the first AUSTSWIM textbooks in Australia at this time which included specific section on working with Disabled Swimmers. In the past 30 or so years there have been many effective developments and advances in the programmes and we now offer a comprehensive and vast array of programmes,"he said.

Other than stressing on the advantages in terms of a healthy living, he said the disabled people can also dream of entering the competitive level.

"Swimming can overcome problems like obesity and diabetes. The reduction in weight allows many to stand and walk and move freely - even if they are unable to swim we can teach them and while learning they will find that they are getting plenty of exercise and movement. If they increase their activity in certain cases the effects of diabetes can be reversed.

"There is now a whole series of competitions for people with disabilities and these competitions allow many to go on to be representatives of their countries in the Paralympics. So if they are good they can give it a try," he said.

For more details contact or Call 04 3211848 or 056 637978.

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 18, 2014
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