Tagged with: Cerebral Palsy disability High School Sports inclusive Swimming
Looking back on my experience in high school, my fondest memory is being part of the swim team. Being that I have cerebral palsy I could not not swim the same times as other swimmers, but I practiced and competed with my peers.
The coaches were hesitant at first when I first walked through the pool doors as a freshmen. As my coach saw that all he had to do was adapt my workouts, meaning in some cases I would not be swimming as many yards as the other swimmers he began to relax and realize I would be fine. Other swimmers on the team saw that I was there for the same purpose as they were. They were very accepting of me being on the team and treated me like any other swimmer.
At swim meets I took part in mostly exhibition races. Even though I was not able to swim the same times as the other swimmers without disabilities, I was able to set personal goal times for myself.
However, the reason why being on the swim team in high school is my fondest memory has nothing to do with the times I swam in races, (even though I cared very much what my times were then) it has to do with the comarodity and relationships that I built over the four years that I was on the team. When I think back to the days on the swim team I remember cheering my fellow swim team members on, dinners and parties, preparing for our league meet, all of the goofing around we did, etc. etc. I was just another member of the team doing something I loved.
Sports teams are a part of high school culture. They give students an outlet for talents and interests they may have outside the classroom setting. Like any other student, students with disabilities may have interests in sports and may have done a sport all their life. Thus, it should be a natural progression that they should be able to compete in high school, if they indeed want to. Accommodations may have to be made. Accommodations and adaptations are just a part of inclusion in my mind.
From my experience, the effect of being a part of my high school swim team for four years had a very positive effect on my self confidence and esteem. It allowed me to be more than a student in high school. I would imagine playing a sport you love and being on a team with your fellow peers would have the same positive effect on all students. Memories are made and relationships flourish in an environment like this.