Disabled Swimming at Northern Arena Learn to Swim School

Disabled Children Learn to Swim Programme

Northern Arena learn to swim school believes all children should be given the opportunity to learn to swim and be safer in the water.

Our philosophy is to mainstream disabled children where this is possible. We extend all children so they reach their potential and believe anything is possible if you persevere. At Northern Arena our staff including swim teachers have been trained in the No Exceptions Training programme from the Halberg Trust and we treat all our children as potential swimmers.

Becoming a Swim School Member Interested in becoming a Northern Arena Swim School Member? Our philosophy is to mainstream disabled children where this is possible. At Northern Arena we understand the importance and specific needs of every individual which is why most of our teachers are Halberg disability trained. Before becoming a swim school member, we need to assess your child with either over the phone or with a short 5-10 minute swim assessment to ensure they begin swimming at the correct level.

Disabled Swimming

Northern Arena Director, Mark Saunders instigated the “Teaching Disabled Swimmers” teacher training course for Swimming New Zealand. Many of our swim teachers are now trained in teaching disabled swimming including autism, aspergers, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, cancer, ADD, ADDHD, angelmans syndrome and visual and hearing impairment.

In our first year (2011) of operation we established a link with Unitec Osteopathy School to work on a 14 week study for the social and physical benefits of swimming for children with cerebral palsy. The staff and families all noticed a huge improvement in the children’s swimming ability and water confidence.

We also work with local Physios and OT’s who refer children to us as they have seen the benefits for the children they work with, in our swimming programme.

We have established links with several organisations that support disabled swimming among children. We are a registered provider for the Cerebral Palsy Society for their getPhysical Programme and we work closely with the Halberg Trust’s Sport Opportunity Advisors (see below for application form).

Lesson options include

  1. One to one lessons
  2. Low ratio classes (only available in school hours)
  3. Mainstream classes
  4. Disability squad training (Saturday only)

Suggested funding ideas

  1. Halberg Trust Activity Fund on www.allsportsnz.co.nz/funding
  2. GetPhysical  – Cerebral Palsy Society on www.cpsociety.org.nz
  3. Child Cancer Society
  4. Variety Club


“I would like to pass on my thanks for their understanding, patience and perseverance with my daughter. She was refusing to get in the pool due to a burn on her leg. Dean came over and tried to convince her to get in the pool and in the end carried her into the pool. Once she got in, she calmed down and was able to carry on with the rest of the lesson. It is this sort of caring and support that truly makes awkward and difficult situations less painful and frustrating, especially with a special needs child. Thank you so much.

“Thanks so much for helping us to apply for this [Halberg Trust grant], it will be a huge help.  I have been to another group today and have given your details to another parent who has a daughter with CP and is very motivated – they are very interested in getting you to teach their child. I am very impressed with Sionann’s lessons and how much she enjoys it so will keep putting out the good word for more clients for you!
Thanks again and see you Saturday. Cheers.”
L. Murphy

“Nathan was invited to be apart in a research program with AUT researching the effects of water/swimming on children with Cerebral Palsy. We jumped at the chance to see if it would be a benefit to Nathan. At first I wondered if he would ever get it as using his arms, legs and listening was a lot for Nathan to process but WOW the difference in Nathan was amazing all of a sudden he was standing straighter, walking around unaided more and he is only going from strength to strength and now loves swimming. After the study we decided to stay on with the lessons as I believe the more Nathan gets into swimming he can then use those skills across the whole of his life, Learning to process several things at once is a great skill to have…Nathan is really enjoying showing the video footage we took of him swimming to everyone that will watch it, he is so proud!” Mark, Natt, Nathan and Georgia

“Our son is autistic and has limited access to activities or lessons due to his disabilities. Northern Arena has gone above and beyond in my opinion to make us welcome and adapt their programme to help him learn proper swimming technique. Our son responds with pride in him and with his limited language says “swim-fun”. Our sincere thanks to the team at Northern Arena for their consideration and helpfulness in at times a difficult teaching situation.” K. Davey

“A huge thank you has to go to the team at Northern Arena for the effort and faith you have had in my son. Capped at this mornings assembly at school as their junior boys champion. Our son, a diagnosed asperges is going from strength to strength as he learns to control his body and mind gaining confidence in himself.”

CLICK HERE to get in touch

Give us a call on 094219700 or simply complete this form and we will get back to you as soon as we can. To get a feel for Northern Arena take a video tour or pop in and see us on the corner of Whangaparaoa Road and the Hibiscus Coast Highway. We’d love to show you around and answer any questions.

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