The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation awarded a $5,750 quality-of-life grant to the Miami Springs Parks and Recreation Department, which will allow those with paralysis and other impairments to enjoy the city’s pool.
“This program has always been a cornerstone of one of our core beliefs — the power of we,” said Peter Wilderotter, the foundation’s president. “We are better able to help our community members live more independently.”
The grant will provide learn-to-swim gear and programs to “non-swimmers” of all ages who are facing physical, emotional or mobility challenges. There is no charge for the service, and you do not have to be a city resident to participate.
“Four years ago, we instituted groundbreaking therapeutic aquatics and learn-to-swim programs at no charge for both children and adults in this region with spinal-cord injuries, degenerative diseases, autism and many other disabilities,” said Omar Luna, the city’s recreation director, who announced the award last Friday.
Luna plans to use grant funds to add ladders, rails, swim bars, platforms and more so that disabled visitors to the pool can “enjoy the water.”
The program aims to enhance one’s emotional and physical health, as well as increase independence.
One local grandmother who advocates for autism research thinks the program will help her grandson who is living with autism.
“It's a wonderful feeling when the members of the autism community actually are given funds to enable them to enjoy a pastime that we all take for granted,” said Rosie Buckner, who last year pushed the city to install signs warning drivers that they have entered an “autistic child area.” “Where do I sign my grandson up?”
Buckner hopes the city continues the program even after the grant funds are used.
Quality-of-life grants, started by the late Dana Reeve, are awarded to programs or projects that improve the daily lives of people with paralysis, although the funds aren’t limited to that condition.
A total of 76 grants have been awarded nationwide. Since 1999, the program has awarded 2,131 grants totaling over $16 million.
For information about the city’s learn-to-swim adaptive program, call 305-805-5075.