Water wheelchairs aid swim program at Manning Aquatic Leisure Centre

Adam Wilks is able-bodied but happily took a seat in the new water wheelchair at the YMCA Manning Aquatic Leisure Centre in Taree. The chair is a new addition to the facilities and was recently presented to centre for use by Manning Valley residents. In attendance was (from left) Simon Handley, Greg Fuller, Kathrine Silcock,Vanessa Byma, Tracey Croker, Melissa Morgan and Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chairman, Michael Slater.

Adam Wilks is able-bodied but happily took a seat in the new water wheelchair at the YMCA Manning Aquatic Leisure Centre in Taree. The chair is a new addition to the facilities and was recently presented to centre for use by Manning Valley residents. In attendance was (from left) Simon Handley, Greg Fuller, Kathrine Silcock,Vanessa Byma, Tracey Croker, Melissa Morgan and Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chairman, Michael Slater.

LEARNING to swim will be easier for people with a physical disability with a new water wheelchair at the YMCA Manning Aquatic Leisure Centre in Taree.

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation provided the YMCA with $4800 to purchase two water wheelchairs for its SwimAbility programs - one for Manning Aquatic Leisure Centre and Bellingen Shire Swim Centre.

Charitable Foundation Chairman Michael Slater said learning to swim was an important part of the Australian lifestyle and was a skill all members of the community should have access to not just those who are able bodied.

"The water wheelchairs allow people with a physical disability or mobility issue to be transferred from their normal wheelchair into the specially designed chair and then into the water," Mr Slater said.

"Being able to move from one chair to another with ease, dignity and respect is important to enhancing confidence while swimming in the pool. The new water wheelchairs are also safer for YMCA staff and carers who do not have to carry the participant into the pool or use a hoist.

"The Charitable Foundation applauds the YMCA for their commitment to strengthening our local communities through programs such as SwimAbility," Mr Slater added.

YMCA Community Development Advisor Northern Region Rhonda Wilson said the funding had helped expand the program to more groups throughout the region.

"We are now able to offer the SwimAbility program to local community members who were previously restricted because of their mobility issues," Ms Wilson said.

"The water wheelchair has helped provide a sense of freedom and independence for people with a disability who can at times feel isolated from water activities."

The $4800 funding was part of a larger $69,000 grant provided by the Charitable Foundation to YMCA to buy equipment for the SwimAbility program in aquatic centres in the Great Lakes, Wyong, Toukley, Raymond Terrace, Tilligerry, Tomaree, Macksville and Singleton.

The SwimAbility program operates across NSW and focuses on water safety skills, aquatic fitness and confidence when swimming.

Local charity and not-for-profit organisations are invited to apply for the next Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation funding round which closes on October 17.

For further information go to www.newcastlepermanent.com.au or phone 13 19 87.

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