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Program Helps Those Who Struggle With Water

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By BRETT LAKE

Carroll County Times

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — Kelly Hoover has been involved with the therapeutic recreation swimming program on-and-off for 10 years.

Specialized for people with developmental disabilities, the eight-week swimming class has given Kelly, 23, more than just the ability to swim.

“We put Kelly in the program for a therapeutic and a recreation activity,” said Denise Hoover, Kelly’s mother. “She wasn’t able to enjoy everything the way her normal peers could.”

The therapeutic recreation swimming program is one of 12 classes that make up the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks’ therapeutic recreation program. Serving people in the county with developmental disabilities for more than 20 years, the programs offered throughout the year include bowling, cooking, music, fitness and singing classes.

Deborah Gemmill, therapeutic recreation specialist, said the swimming program is catered to people of all ages, which makes it one of the more popular programs. She also said that the pool at Carroll Springs School, where the classes are held, has helped people in the program overcome motor problems stemming from their disabilities.

Kelly, who is legally blind and suffers from other developmental disabilities, can now do the breaststroke, backstroke and swim the length of the pool. But other than her achievements inside of the pool, the program has served as a confidence builder and social outlet for Kelly.

“This population can’t interact in every activity,” Denise said. “So the swimming has helped Kelly bond and form some friendships that way.”

The program is broken into three classes ranging from ages 2 to adults. The classes are formed based on age and the condition of the person’s disability.

The program started the month and runs through Nov. 2, though people interested in participating this year can still register.

Janis Krolus, swimming instructor, said that learning how to swim is an invaluable tool for people with developmental disabilities because it teaches self-confidence and gives them a skill they can continue to use outside of the class.

The Turtles class, ages 2 to 7, is for parents and their children where the focus is on getting the children adjusted to being in the water. The Splish! Splash! group, ages 8 to 12, is a more structured class that teaches the basics of swimming, including the breaststroke, backstroke and breathing techniques.

“My concern is to make sure that people know how to swim and how to be safe in the water,” Krolus said.

The adult group, Lucky Ducks, is a more social class where the participants work on being more comfortable in the water.

Meghan Lindner, 26, has participated in the program for several years and is again registered this year. Her mother Donna said that swimming has become Meghan’s favorite hobby.

“It was wonderful. She got to be around other kids. It was a lot of socializing, but she also learned how to swim,” Donna said. “She loves it.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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