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Kingston Y Penguins Aquatic ClubPenguin Swimmer at the YMCA Kingston - Swim team for children with physical disabilities

Every child, able-bodied or disabled benefits from participating in a physical activity and being part of a team.  Physical literacy, fitness, social opportunities, friendship development, work ethic, goal setting and all the other skills learned in sport, lead to a long term healthy, active, positive life.

 

One of the most important aspect the Kingston Y Penguins offer, is the social opportunities.

 

Many kids with special needs are bullied at school. They eat lunch alone, they are teased, ridiculed, punched and ignored. According to Dr. Anne Snowden, a nurse and professor at the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor in Ontario, 53 per cent of kids with a disability don’t have a friend.

 

Because of the Y penguins unique make up, we have an inclusive environment made up of families who intuitively know how to be inclusive, because each of these families has made certain adjustments to their lifestyle to ensure their children are included completely. This helps us create a safe inclusive environment at our YMCA.

 

Once the young people feel safe and welcome within our team, they begin attending swim meets with able bodied programs. They can step into a familiar world with peers, but amongst friends who are completely supportive and understand the challenges. As this process recurs at more and more meets, the swimmers confidence is bolstered and their ability to move comfortably into other aspects of their life becomes easier.

 

The Y Penguins is the one place where kids can relax, be themselves, be accepted, learn leadership skills and allow their personalities to shine through.

 

There are hundreds of sporting opportunities in our communities for able-bodied children.  Special Olympics programs for children and youth and adults with intellectual & cognitive disabilities are thriving. The Kingston Y Penguins addresses the needs of young people with physical disabilities.

 

Kids with physical disabilities seem to have few opportunities where they can go to learn about, and explore their abilities. They need a place to belong. A place to play. A place to make friends. A place to challenge themselves and gain confidence and self esteem.Penguin Swimmer at the YMCA Kingston - Swim team for children with physical disabilities

 

One Y Penguin Mom said “So many sports and activities which the parents of able-bodied children take for granted, have until now been denied to their "special needs" child. The exclusion might have been because of the physical limitations (perceived or real), safety concerns, or because of society's attitude. The barriers have made it difficult for the child with the disability to be fully included. Things have changed though, and thanks to Vicki Keith and the YMCA of Kingston, activity options have opened up.”

For more information on these projects please contact Vicki Keith at vicki_keith@kingston.ymca.ca or by phone at 613-546-2647.

Download the Penguins' Swim meet Schedule.