In February 2014, Autism Speaks launched the Swimming and Water Safety Scholarship Fund. This program grants funding to organizations that provide swimming and water safety lessons to award scholarships to financially disadvantaged individuals with autism. The Your Dollars @ Work post below is a series of pictures of some of the scholarship recipients as well as testimonials from parents and service providers. You can learn more about this grant program here!
Since 2014, Autism Speaks has awarded $500,000 in scholarship funding to over 110 swimming programs in 29 states. The scholarships have helped approximately 2,000 swimmers with autism take lifesaving lessons!
Below are photos of some scholarship recipients, as well as testimonials about the impact the swim program has had on the swimmers!
"As a parent of a young child with Autism who is very attracted to water and has no understanding of danger, I am so excited to have found this swim program for my son. I am amazed to watch his interaction with the teacher and his overall determination to learn this skill. Christopher only uses three words on a consistent basis- to hear him repeat “kick” after the instructor and then to see him actually then begin to kick… brought tears to my eyes- and to hers!"
"The swim scholarship has significantly helped Gabriela and Brianna overcome their fear of water and helped them build trust. Since the swim lessons, Brianna is now able to get in the pool and she has learned several skills that would help her prevent any future life-threatening experiences. Gabriela's love of the water was always concerning for her parents because she was unaware of potentially dangerous situations. Thanks to the swim lessons, Gabriela now knows sage pool skills and continue to enjoy her time in the pool."
"Our swim students have greatly benefited from their swim scholarships. One of the successes we are excited to share is that we are able to serve the whole family through Autism Speaks scholarships. For example, through leveraging the financial support of Autism Speaks, our EXCEL program has been able to enroll not only youth with developmental disabilities into the swim program, but also their siblings as well!"
"Water has always fascinated our son. He’s always been eager to have a bath, stare at a fountain, and jump into a sprinkler’s spray. Yet due to his autism, my husband and I rarely took him to a pool, concerned that the noise level might upset him. But with the help of MarTar’s patient instructors, he eventually learned to jump in. He tells me about how “good” it feels in the water, and always seems joyful when he comes home afterward. He’s gained a sense of accomplishment by his successes in the pool, as well as enjoying the freedom to use his abundant energy in a positive way."
"The aquatic lessons that Gavin receives at Good Shepherd are especially important to him and our family. During each lesson he becomes more and more comfortable in the water and gains the confidence that he greatly needs. Previously he did not feel comfortable and was not at all confident being near the water. A mother’s greatest fear is knowing that this can lead to a dangerous situation. Our family is so appreciative and thankful to Good Shepherd for eliminating that worry by providing the swim lessons from staff that are not only thoroughly trained to work with our son, but have years of experience to apply to each lesson and ensure Gavin's safety in the water."
Learn more about the Autism Speaks Swimming and Water Safety Scholarship Fund here and be sure to encourage swim programs in your area to apply for funding!
Find a swim program near you here!
Your Dollars @ Work is a blog series highlighting the important work of past recipients of Autism Speaks grants to give you a glimpse into how your donations are changing lives of so many in the autism community! Check out previous entries here.