Mississippi State hosts swim camp for those with special needs

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Mississippi State University is helping a group of campers make a real splash this Summer.

The Mississippi State Department of Kinesiology is teaming up with the non-profit group, iCanShine, to teach swimming and water safety to people with special needs.

Director Dr. Gregg Twietmeyer said the school has hosted the iCanBike camp since 2016 and wanted to provide new opportunities to the community.

This year the school is taking to the pool with iCanSwim.

“This camp is a way to reach out and give access to sport and physical activity to everybody because human beings are embodied beings and we are meant to move and we want to move well,” said Twietmeyer.

iCanSwim teaches swimming fundamentals and safety to people of all ages with special needs.

“The camp is individualized to each person because people have different needs, different stages of development, and so forth but the basic idea is to teach water safety and basic swimming skills, and as you said kids in general gravitate to the water because it is so much fun,” said Twietmeyer.

Jennifer Gray is the Communication Director for the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services. She said programs like this are the first steps to giving people with special needs a sense of independence.

“Those with disabilities want to live their lives just like everyone else they just might need to make modifications whether it’s in their home or ways they drive or equipment that they use at work,” said Gray.

Swim instructor, Georgia Starr said it’s important to make learning fun and stimulating, especially for the youngest participants.

“We call it play with a purpose so everything has a reason so we are not just playing games or using toys like there is a purpose behind it. With our older, or with the parachute we are doing a big circle, and we are going around and singing a song but they are also getting to feel what it’s like to be in the water on their own but supported,” said Starr.

Starr said the best part of the program is seeing her swimmers grow in their abilities, and have fun doing it.

“The smiles. They get so excited especially when they love to splash and sometimes they get really excited about the splashing and toys and just seeing when they are able to complete a skill that is sometimes kind of hard for our littles just because they are so young but a lot of them will complete a skill and it makes us really proud, ” said Starr.

Even though this is the first year of the program, MSU plans to bring iCanSwim back next year.

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