Programme to teach autistic children to swim to launch in Newbridge

JTR Swim School

Programme to teach autistic children to swim to launch in Newbridge

Johanna Tilley-Rock of Just Train Right Swim School teaching children to swim

A special programme developed to teach autistic children how to swim, one of the first of its kind in Ireland, will be delivered in Newbridge.

Instructor Johanna Tilley-Rock who runs Just Train Right (JTR) Swim School, has spent the last year creating the specialised programme.

“I’ve done up a new programme, Swim Ireland have backed me on this as well, to teach autistic kids how to swim,” Johanna told the Leader.

“I’ve been trying to develop this for the last year and a half, but the stumbling block was I couldn’t find a pool to deliver the programme.”

Johanna was then given the go-ahead to run the classes in Spin Activity Centre on Station Road in Newbridge, owned by Dancing with the Stars judge Brian Redmond.

“He teaches dancing to kids that have a disability so he’s been so brilliant.”

Kildare Sports Partnership and Kildare Autism Network have come on board to support Johanna's new venture.

Johanna will run an information evening for parents and children in Spin Activity Centre on February 20 at 7pm.

“I have the knowledge when it comes to swimming to deliver this programme for kids in the wider Kildare area, and it just means that there are qualified teachers, who have been trained by me to understand the importance of autism, and nobody else in Ireland is actually doing this.”

Johanna is a tutor assessor for Swim Ireland, and  is already qualified to deliver swimming teacher courses and  coaching courses for Swim Ireland. She has also done courses in disability and autism, and also for kids with dyslexia. She  teaches children how to swim whom have had, or have been diagnosed with scoliosis.

Johanna has two friends with autistic children, and this gave her the idea to develop her knowledge in the area.

“Because I help out so much with different organisations like Straight2 Swimming and Special Olympics, I just felt that there wasn’t enough inclusion for kids who needed it. Teachers didn’t know how to teach these kids.

“So I went off and developed a programme. I’ve put a CPD together and as part of the Swim Education School that I run, I’m now going to deliver this programme to lots of different teachers.”

A retired member of the Defence Forces, she climbed Kilimanjaro last year to raise funds for charity, and create awareness about  Newbridge scoliosis swim club.

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