One thing I love about BYU is all the fun ways to serve, such as the fun service group Adaptive Aquatics. I had the opportunity to work with this group as part of my Biology class last semester, and I am so glad I did. Adaptive Aquatics is a program to help special needs children learn motor skills while having fun through partnering the children with volunteers. There are two options to work with: Adaptive Aquatics and Gym Kids. In Adaptive Aquatics, volunteers swim and play with their partners. In Gym Kids, volunteers and children play with bowling pins, yoga balls, basketballs, and even a parachute that the school provides.
I myself only did Adaptive Aquatics for two weeks before I switched over to Gym Kids. I had a blast in Gym Kids. One time, my cousin and I were paired with a little girl who only wanted piggyback rides and to play tag. Whew! My cousin and I were worn out by the end of that session. Another time, I worked with three rambunctious boys who tied a bunch of scarves together as a rope, then had me tie each of them up. I would tie them extremely loosely, so that all they had to do was tug and then they were free. Once the prisoner was free, the others would chase him and bring him back and it would be the next boy’s turn. I can only imagine what their teachers were thinking as they watched me tie their students up, but nobody interfered, so we kept playing.
My favorite session, however, occurred when I was partnered with a boy in a wheelchair. His teacher took him out and put him in my lap. He couldn’t talk, but he had the best giggle in the world. I put him on top of a yoga ball and bounced him around, and he loved it. The best though, was when I sung him the Tigger song (“the wonderful thing about Tiggers…”) and he would giggle the whole time. I don’t remember his name, and he almost definitely doesn’t remember me at all, but at that moment, I loved him with all of my heart.
Before I did Adaptive Aquatics, I didn’t really know how to treat special needs kids . I hadn’t really had much experience with them, and they seemed kind of scary. However, as I got to work with them more and more, I realized that they are just like other children and don’t need to be isolated or treated condescendingly.
So if you have time from 11 to 11:40 AM on Thursdays or Fridays, head on down to Adaptive Aquatics in the Richards Building pool and gym number 146. I believe any person planning on working with children in the future should participate in this program. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is also a video for your viewing pleasure: