He is not in this for the money like some non-profits we know and he is doing some good things with it too. He sent me this press release and then we talked about it. I am down with any swim program that helps disabled people and Kenn is doing just that:
One with the Water™ - [Errata: Ken prefers the line to read:] welcomes athletes of the US Paralympics to provide year-round training for those that want to learn to compete!
This program is designed for persons with mental or physical challenges, what we call "flawless imperfections." Designed to help swimmers learn and improve skills, maintain and increase physical fitness, achieve success and receive recognition through competition, and experience self-actualization in a regular aquatics environment. The program include one weekly technique lesson and as many workouts a week as you can make!
We offer lessons and swim team practices to those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Asperger's, ADD, ADHD, sensory integration, anxiety, Down and CHARGE syndrome, auditory processing disorders, dyslexia and other neurological flawless imperfections. We welcome Service-Disabled Veterans and athletes of the U.S. Paralympics and U.S. Special Olympics!
Tony: You are an industrious guy, what was it that got you started working with kids with sensory integration issues and starting One with the Water?
Kenneth: I have actually been teaching and coaching swimming on a part-time basis for over twenty-five years. Last summer, I had the opportunity to start doing it full-time and ran with it. I enjoyed it so much and found that I had a special connection with the kids with sensory integration issues. So, I left my job as an engineer and decided to pursue this full-time. I wanted it to be a non-profit in order to provide swimming lesson scholarships to families that might be struggling with resources. We don’t turn down anyone that wants to learn to swim, or become “One with the Water.” And being a non-profit allows us to accept donations for those scholarships. We recently were awarded a grant from the Coast 2 Coast swim challenge. We will be teaching 18 kids to swim this summer with that small grant.
SCAQ Blog: What kinds of issues have the kids been diagnosed with that you teach?
Kenneth: I have several kids diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, a great swimmer with muscular dystrophy, and several kids with Asperger's, ADD, ADHD, sensory integration, anxiety, Down and CHARGE syndrome, auditory processing disorders and dyslexia. I also teach a few Service-Disabled Veterans and train athletes for the U.S. Paralympics and U.S. Special Olympics. In fact, I recently worked with Mia Schaikewitz of the new Sundance series “Push Girls”. I trained Mia for a swim meet. We competed together at the UC Irvine pool last February. (http://www.sundancechannel.com/push-girls/profiles/mia-schaikewitz/)
SCAQ Blog: How does the swimming help these kids and adults?
Kenneth: Being a swimmer yourself, you see the benefits you gain from working out, when you show up. We focus on full-body development and strengthening motor skills for all of our students. Kids with special needs sometimes need that little extra attention to help them to develop their bodies and motor skills. My experience in teaching the kids has been phenomenal. They are smart, communicative in their own ways, and they appreciate being in the water. They love the water pressure on their bodies, like a hug, that the water puts on them. They like being submerged. This helps them to feel grounded. With all of the stimulation in the world today: noise, internet, visual and verbal, being under water helps them to escape from that and clear their minds. As you know, swimming is an incredible vehicle for positive change and awareness.
We trained a young man (teenager) to compete with his high school swim team. Chad trained with us for five months, and made the cut-off times to train with his high school varsity swim team in February. While training with us, he progressed from swimming almost two minutes per 100 yards freestyle, to less than 1 minute 10 seconds per 100 yards. One with the Water Coach Mallory Mead and I attended his conference meet just a few weeks ago. Chad swam a 27 or so on his 50 yard freestyle, and went a 1:00 on his 100 yards. As a freshman, we see him up and coming as he grows in physical stature and his swimming skills. He is competing in both breaststroke and freestyle for his team. More importantly for us and for his family, Chad is able to compete in the mainstream swim program offered by his school.
SCAQ Blog: Wow! That’s huge! I am really stoked for him!
Kenneth: Yes, we are! Chad is a great kid. His dad is super proud of him. We are proud of all the kids we teach. One mom wrote to me last week:
“...I wanted to drop you a line and let you know how thrilled we were with the experience Ezzy had swimming with Kenneth. It was amazing, really. Kenneth just had this incredibly chilled but fun energy that Ezzy just totally connected to. He was learning, but he was having a blast. I literally would hear him laughing his head off for a lot of the lesson. More importantly for us having access to a pool, 8 lessons later, he is swimming. Kenneth had a really perfect balance of pushing Ezzy past his comfort zone but never scaring him or forcing him through something as I have seen other instructors do in the past.-- (Sarah Zavdi)”
Although Ezzy is not diagnosed with any sensory integration issues, I love teaching all kids and adults. When I hear a kid tell me to let go and let them do it on their own, and when I get feedback like this, well, those are the times that it just brings tears to my eyes.
SCAQ Blog: Sounds like you really like what you do.
Kenneth: I was recently asked why I do what I do, every day. I told them, “When I look into the eyes of the kids that I teach, I see an explosion of beauty, innocence and curiosity. They have a spiritual awareness about them that communicates, "Teach me!" They may not communicate as the standard world expects them to. Just look into their eyes and feel their presence, they will see you and they will communicate their desires to explore the world.”
Tony: You are also a coach for SCAQ at my favorite pool - Last workout featured 400 LCM sets salted with sprints. Really Kenn? Every time I touched the wall I felt like a ship wreck victim washing up on a beach.
Kenneth: Well, Tony, someone has to push you to greatness!
Kenn said if you "Like" One with the Water® on Facebook at this link here: [Link] - You can become a member-donor and receive access to hundreds of workouts or request a workout created just for you, for only $30 a month.
All donations made to One with the Water are used to provide instruction, insurance, and pool space to teach kids with Special Needs. Help us to keep teaching, saving kids’ lives, and donate today.