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Making waves in Chilliwack pool

Swimming instructor, Rae-Marie Hilton, helps four-year-old Brayden Davis move through the water at the Landing Leisure Centre on Saturday.  - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Swimming instructor, Rae-Marie Hilton, helps four-year-old Brayden Davis move through the water at the Landing Leisure Centre on Saturday.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Making Waves Chilliwack is making it easier for special needs kids to get swimming lessons.

They're actively seeking volunteers after establishing a local not-for-profit chapter of Making Waves Canada, an organization founded in Quebec a few years ago.

The idea is to offer discounted swimming lessons for children with various special needs, from Down syndrome to autism, epilepsy and more.

"We are currently the only chapter in the local area, although a Vancouver chapter is starting up in January," said Jordan Peters.

The first set of lessons wrapped up last Saturday morning at the Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre. The next ones start the first Saturday morning in February.

Peters is one of the head swimming instructors, along with Laura Friesen, who originally approached him about taking on the Making Waves project, in partnership with the Leisure Centre. They are lifeguards who do this on a purely volunteer basis.

Both are certified Water Safety Instructors who supervise, facilitate and train all the Making Waves volunteers who must be university students according to the national criteria.

Training of the student volunteers will start in January. They have four consistent volunteers so far, and a couple of substitutes.

"We need more!" he said.

It makes a difference for families to be able to get these swimming lessons and water safety skills for such a good price, as many are working poor, and struggling to make ends meet.

"It's been amazing to watch how these students are able to improve," Peters said.

They adapt the lessons to the kids' specific needs, and build a relationship with them.

"Some became more relaxed in the water. With one-on-one attention we were able to see huge improvements."

They provide lessons exclusively for special needs children at a cost of $20-30 per set. A set comprises up to nine lessons.

They take about 10 kids per set.

"We expect it to grow once we get more instructors. We can't do it without them."

To keep program costs low, they are holding a by-donation fundraiser on Dec. 15 at the Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre, with Zumba starting at 1 p.m. in the Fitness Studio and Aquafit in the pool at 1:45. Minimum donation $2 for each class. Sign up at the front desk. Donations collected 30 minutes before each class in lobby.

Find out more atĀ www.makingwaveschilliwack.org

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