Adaptive Swimming programs empowers kids with special needs and aims to reduce drowning deaths

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ZIONSVILLE, Ind. - Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children with autism and experts say education is the best way to prevent them.

Education can sometimes be difficult for children with special needs and that's why the Zionsville Aquatic Center is now offering adaptive swimming classes. Kristen Vance says traditional classes weren't working.

"In a traditional swim program the instructors have to sit on the side of the pool while they take out one kid at a time and my son has autism he can't just sit on the side of the pool and wait," Vance said. "Well, he's not successful so a lot of times they would end up sending him back to me saying, 'Hey, go sit with your mom.' And when you're not in the pool, then he is frustrated and it just isn't a good fit for him."

She signed her son up for the classes and says the one-on-one attention makes a difference.

"This was his first day and he absolutely loved it and you could just see the joy on his face and everybody was cheering for him you know celebrating his accomplishments in a way that we haven't found anywhere else," Vance said.

The kids have a lot of fun in the pool. They shoot hoops, splash around and play with toy boats. It all has a purpose.

"Ninety-one percent of children with autism who experience an accidental death is because of a drowning, so how do we stop that? We've gotta teach them how to swim, how to be safe in the water," said aquatic director Lisa Brown.

The classes at the Zionsville Aquatic Center are open to anyone regardless of what city they live in. The next session is coming up Jan. 12. There are also two YMCA locations in Indianapolis that teach adaptive swimming: the Arthur Jordan Branch and the Ransburg YMCA.

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