Matthew Marchiani has always loved to swim, but he did not have the skills needed to keep him safe around water. At 10 years old, he joined the SWAM (Swimming With Autism) program at the Brandywine YMCA, and has made tremendous strides over the years.
Knowledge of water safety is critical for individuals with autism because they tend to be drawn to water due to its sensory nature. The SWAM program helps participants learn to float, swim, and stay on top of the water through 1-on-1 instruction, allowing them to learn at their own pace. Today, Matthew knows four major swim strokes and continues to improve in his abilities while building confidence.
Matthew and about half of SWAM participants at the Brandywine Y are able to participate in these Autism swimming lessons thanks to financial support through the Open Doors program. “Thank you for your donations. They are really helping my son personally and his other friends enrolled in the program,” says Mathew’s mom, Kristen. I’ve seen great growth in all of them.”
“Financial support is a huge part of the Y, especially for our SWAM participants, says Sarah Kelly, Brandywine YMCA Swim Lesson Supervisor. “They have a lot going on, medical bills, therapy, things we don’t even know about. To be able to provide financial assistance for them, it’s such an important part of their day-to-day living.”
The YMCA has partnered with Autism Delaware to help provide opportunities within the SWAM program in various Ys across the state. You can learn more about Autism Delaware here: https://www.autismdelaware.org/