Jill and Robbin White founded the Starfish Aquatics Institute (SAI) with the mission to reduce drowning and save lives by providing aquatic safety training through a network of friendly, knowledgeable aquatic professionals. One of the many ways SAI has done exactly that is collaborating with the USA Swimming Foundation, USA Swimming, and the Aquatic Therapy Rehab Institute to develop the continuing educational certification course, “Children with Challenges.”
SAI partners with quality leaders in aquatics, including aspiring instructors, aquatic facility managers, and organizations that wish to partner to create change, such as USA Swimming and ATRI. USA Swimming is a 400,000-member service organization that creates opportunities for swimmers and coaches of all backgrounds to participate and advance in the culture and sport through clubs, events, and education. The organization especially encourages all children, including those with disabilities, to participate in swimming and facilitates their inclusion in USA Swimming programs through education and collaboration.
When the USA Swimming Foundation renewed its affiliate partnership with Starfish Aquatics Institute last October, the new continuing educational certification course, “Children with Challenges”, became a joint development. Created specifically for swim lesson instructors and swim coaches, the course provides the knowledge and tools necessary for aquatic professionals to work with children who endure attention, behavioral, cognitive, or physical challenges.
Throughout the 2015-2016 partnership year, Starfish Aquatics Institute has worked and continues to work closely with the USA Swimming Foundation and USA Swimming on the release of “Children with Challenges.” The three-hour online certification course was launched this February, which serves as the first step in a learning journey by providing a basic introduction to working with children with challenges in a swim lesson or swim team setting. As learners navigate the step-by-step course, they cover priorities and benefits, safety and risk management, individualizing aquatics, and challenge specific facilitation.
Once they complete the online course, individuals are able to attend any of the three in-person “Children with Challenges” workshops, offered to aide with the certification of swim coaches and instructors. Full-day sessions include classroom discussions, practical applications, and sharing of best practices. Workshops will be held on June 2 in Oak Brook, Illinois, August 27 in Castle Rock, Colorado and November 12 in Avon, Indiana.
The Starfish Aquatics Institute believes its partnership and the development of the “Children with Challenges” course grants each organization a greater capacity to impact lives of people of any age or ability. Together, the organizations are not only providing reputable and responsive resources, but also spreading a shared message of the importance of learning to swim and water safety so that more needs are able to be met and drowning incidents reduced.
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