Making waves; Medical students begin program that allows special-needs kids to splash around with joy

Making waves; Medical students begin program that allows special-needs kids to splash around with joy

The Chronicle Herald | May 16, 2011 | By Laura Fraser

Van Bernard’s father lifts him from his motorized wheelchair. The three-year-old wriggles like a fish on a line desperate to return to the water.

Colin Bernard lowers his son to the lip of the pool, watching the boy’s legs dance in the waves made by other swimmers. Van scrunches up his nose — “It’s cold!” — but still holds out his hands.

And then he leans in to his instructor and splashes down. He squeals, smiles and starts kicking, clutching a steady pair of forearms.

“For the first time on his own, when he was in the pool, (it) was incredible; I cried,” Julie Clegg says of her son.

“We have a specialized head float where he can be completely independent and float around the pool. . . . He was pretty intimidated at first, but (then) he kicked, he was moving his limbs and his arms, and it was just a sense of freedom and independence.”

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