Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Wayne Barnett
The Indoor Pool played host to some special children and their parents Sunday.
Family Fun Pool Parties are part of the Exceptional Family Member swim program that started five years ago by indoor pool manager Don Armes and Deborah MacSwain, a volunteer Red Cross swimming instructor, and are now referred to as “Miss Debbie’s swim kids.”
“Family Fun Pool Parties are held twice a year, once at each pool on post, to give parents, siblings and friends a chance to have a fun time in the water with these special-needs children,” said Darla Hansen, assistant aquatics program manager and one of the five EFMP swim instructors.
“The EFMP swim program differs from the regular swim class in that the lessons are taught one-on-one,” said MacSwain. The classes offer fun therapy along with water safety and are approved by the Red Cross.
“Children with special needs for learning have a lot of energy and coming out here and focusing some of that energy on something constructive really helps them get through their day and enables them to apply these lessons that they are learning into other things in their life,” said Maj. Scott Trapman, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, whose daughter has participated in the program for three years.
“One of the things I’ve learned was socialization, whether you are a child with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or autism, is to be able to come together with other kids and feel like you’re part of the group,” said MacSwain.
Those interested in enrolling for classes must turn in Department of Defense Form 2792 completed by their primary care provider to room 2103 Evans Army Community Hospital. Once approved for the EFMP program, the Family member must be enrolled in Child, Youth and School Services.
The cost is $30 for six 30-minute lessons that are given at various times.
Contact Darla Hansen at 526-3107 for more information.