Ausnew Home Care | Swim programs team up to make swimming accessible for people with a disability, medical condition or injury

Swim programs team up to make swimming accessible for people with a disability, medical condition or injury

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A swimming teacher and avid surfer, Ella Donohoe's life revolved around the water.  

But she almost lost of all that when she was involved in a horrific car crash that left her in a coma for seven weeks and in a hospital bed for eight months. 

Ms Donohoe suffered a major brain injury and said she was given a 10 per cent chance of survival. 

More than two years on, she has defied the odds — she's back in the water, and credits the pool for part of her recovery. 

The 23-year-old's face lights up as she speaks about being back in the water — in the ocean on her surfboard and in the pool,  where she is now sharing her love of the water with her daughter.

baby in pool
Eight-month-old Laia is learning to swim. (ABC Gold Coast: Heidi Sheehan)

"She has made my world amazing," Ms Donohoe said.  

"Laia absolutely loves the pool, loves swimming.

Before her accident, Ms Donohoe was a swimming teacher at Laurie Lawrence's Swim School. 

"She's free in the water and she wants her baby Laia to be free in the water as well," Mr Lawrence said.

"Her connection with the water meant it was so important for her to get back in the water as soon as possible," said Emma Lawrence, who manages the Kids Alive Do the Five program. 

"It supported her journey, it's now also supporting her little daughter learning to swim."

Making swimming more accessible

Ms Donohoe and Kids Alive Do the Five have teamed up with Austswim to help make swimming more accessible for people with a disability, a medical condition or an injury. 

Austswim has been running its MATE (Making Aquatics a Terrific Experience) program for 10 years. 

"It's really taken off … we are now national and there are so many MATE workshops happening around the country," said program ambassador, Brooke Hanson.

women standing near pool, one with a baby
Emma Lawrence, Brooke Hanson, Ella Donohoe and her daughter Laia.(ABC Gold Coast: Heidi Sheehan)

The Olympic gold medallist had a personal reason to get involved. 

"My son has a full-time stoma, which is a plug that comes out of his appendix," she said.

'Redefining diversity'

Ms Hanson said the course gave people confidence to help others in the pool. 

"Giving them confidence to use some of the machinery around and realise that there are ramps at a lot of the pools and really understanding how they can get their mate to the pool, who has a disability or illness," Ms Hanson said.

"We want people all over Australia to get to the workshops and learn how everyone can access and be included in swimming and water safety," Ms Lawrence said. 

"I think swimming is so great for the social, emotional and physical development and being in the water is such a wonderful experience."


Source: ABC

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