Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Special Olympics

                Every Friday, I end school, and quickly go into my mom's car. She then drives me to the YMCA. When I get there I eat a quick snack in the car and head inside. The second I get through the doors, I don't go to the basketball courts, or the workout room. I don't go to the racquetball courts or the gymnastics gym. The second I arrive I head straight for the pool locker room.
                I'm not there to swim laps however; I work as a volunteer for the swim class for kids with special needs. I can't in good conscience imply that I am the kind of saint that volunteers out of the goodness of my heart, or for a sense of self-fulfillment. I had taken a sociology class, and for the final we were required to complete 30 hours of community service. The YMCA's special needs swim class was a great opportunity. Honestly though, I completed the hours awhile ago, and I continue to volunteer at the class.
                The reasons I continue there is because I have built friendships with the kids in the class and enjoy working there. The class is split into two parts. The first half is for the kids with more severe disabilities. I spend most of my time working with Jon. Jon has balance problems, so we've spent a lot of time working on how he rotates his arms. We use the wall at the side of the pool and he puts his hands on the wall, brings one back, returns it to the wall, and repeats with his other hand. This simulates the arm movement of free stroke. He has improved greatly since I first saw him swimming. He used to do a variation of the doggy paddle, now he kicks and alternates his arms. His form and endurance still need a lot of work (he rarely finishes a whole lap without a break), but he has improved immensely.
                For the second half of the class, the first group leaves, and the second group, the high functioning kids, arrive. I have less to do at this point, because Jerome, the man who runs the program, can handle these kids better without my help. In a way, I switch from a teacher to an assistant in this transition, but I'm ok with that.
                These kids aren't' just swimming for recreation, they are working towards a goal. In March there is a Special Olympics swim meet that they will all hopefully participate in, and hopefully all get medals in. I can't wait to see the kids compete in this event. I find the entire experience to be fun, and that is why I take time out of my Fridays to volunteer at the YMCA.

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