'Safe and confident': Rainbow Club shines at Mounties

Rainbow Club Australia using the facilities at Mounties.
Rainbow Club Australia using the facilities at Mounties.

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, which means he was born blind in both eyes.

The Mounties Group Fitness Coordinator and Senior Operations Supervisor had previously 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 experienced the stares and commentary from some parents who were unhappy with Kyzen disrupting their kids when he would have sensory meltdowns," Ms Bordin said.

"Put all this together and we felt it was best to remove him from these lessons."

Kyzen has now been accepted to join the Rainbow Club.

Established more than 50 years ago, the club operates under the mantra that children with a disability have the right to learn to swim, be safe, and experience fun and freedom in the water.

The Swim the Rainbow program has been specially designed to teach these children individually using structure, reward and progress in a social, fun and supportive aquatic environment.

The charity organisation have recently received a boost with Mounties approving a grant which permits the Rainbow Club to host their swim lessons at the state-of-the-art Mounties Ignite Health and Fitness Centre and also subsidise the cost of swimming lessons for participants.

There are currently 30 students signed up and that number is anticipated to increase to almost 50 to accommodate the long waiting list.

"Knowing that the Rainbow Club instructors actually want to teach children with additional needs was a big draw card," Ms Bordin said.

"In addition, the fact that the other parents and carers are in the same boat as us and wont 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."

Rainbow Club Australia General Manager Catriona Barry said they develop students' skills in a "nurturing environment" free from stress.

"We have a network of swimming clubs 25 across Sydney - who provide individual lessons for kids who may not be able to keep up in group sessions," she said.

"Learning to swim gives them a skill for life one which helps them to feel more included in life at home and more included socially at school with their friends.

"We just want these kids to feel safe and confident when they step into the pool. It's fantastic that Mounties Group has been able to open their pool to us."