20th February, 2023 — Good Sports awards
ACT Club of the Year - Water Wombats
Water Wombats, a swimming club that supports young people with additional needs, was crowned the ACT’s Club of the Year.
It was recognised for its efforts in adopting practices and strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of their members, inspiring positive change and building a healthier, and inclusive club environment.
“We aim to provide a safe and healthy environment that transpires into all areas of our members lives. Our overarching goals is to reduce the fatal drownings rates for neurodivergent children,” said Water Wombats Committee Member, Savitha Aiyer.
Hosted by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation at Parliament House, Canberra in February 2023, the Awards ceremony recognised Good Sports clubs and their dedicated volunteers from across the country who are passionate about community, their members and making their club the very best it can be.
Children learning to love the water
“Our inclusive program understands that for all participants to learn to swim, classes need to be tailored and customised to the participants strengths. This means working to behavioural and physical needs and involving the family members. Parents have been thrilled that their child is no longer petrified of water,” Savitha added.
The club has reached the highest level of Good Sports, and says it is proud of the initiatives it has adopted since joining the program.
“Good Sports has benefitted the team in a number of ways, including helping our staff better recognise potential signs of mental health issues, and alcohol and other drug-related harms. It’s also encouraged us to share help and support information to our members via social media, around issues such as mental health,” Savitha added.
Last year, the club ran a 12-week pilot program, where families could connect with a counsellor and take part in sessions that promoted positive coping strategies. Whilst children attended swimming lessons, a counsellor was on hand at the pool to offer families support and to assist with service referrals and crisis support, in real time.
Carol Jennings named runner up Volunteer of the Year
Club President Carol Jennings was named runner-up for the ACT Good Sports Volunteer of the Year Award, for going above and beyond the usual undertakings of a volunteer.
Carol created the swimming club when her son was excluded from swimming lessons. Mainstream classes weren’t able to cater for his disability. The Water Wombats, and Carol’s son, are now going from strength to strength!
“Carol’s passion shines through to all members of the team and participants in the program, and shares compassionately her mission to save lives and help families avoid the trauma of losing a child to drowning,” Savitha said.