Children with disabilities, including life-threatening conditions, are being given some splashing times in exclusive sessions at Moorways Sports Village and Water Park in Derby, courtesy of much-loved charity me&dee.
The Melbourne-based charity is funding the sessions as part of its continuing care and peer support programme to allow children it supports to have fun in the water – something many of them typically cannot ordinarily do due to their specific needs.
So far two sessions have been held for the exclusive use of children supported by me&dee and more are planned.
Two of the children who have benefited from fun in the water have multiple amputations, one has had part of her skull removed due to brain cancer, and two are twins with dwarfism which means – despite their swimming ability – they are not allowed to go on water slides at the swimming pool because they do not meet the minimum height requirement.
Now me&dee is organising the sessions, offered at a discount by the Moorways team, so that children can enjoy an hour’s session in the leisure centre’s water park and sensory pool, enjoying themselves free from stares and in a safe environment with the full range of slides, atmospherically lit pool and fountains.
Jenny Corns, mum of 10-year-old twins Emilia and Katie, from Loughborough, said the me&dee sessions were a brilliant way for the daredevil duo to enjoy themselves, which they could not do in ordinary swimming sessions. The twins are great swimmers and have won medals in dwarfism swimming contests overseas.
“They’re very good swimmers but water park height restrictions are 1.2 metres, and they’re 1.15 metres tall. At other places, they watch five-year-olds going on the slides and they’re told they can’t.
“They also feel self-conscious in their swimming costumes because it accentuates their short limbs, but when they’re with me&dee they don’t mind. It means they get to enjoy what other children the same age can. It means they’re not restricted because of their height. They meet other children the same age – all the children at these sessions have been through something.”
The me&dee charity works to help families in which a potentially life-limiting illness has been diagnosed by paying for them to make memories together, such as a day out at a farm with private animal encounter experiences and lunch. Working closely with the teams at the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton, charity founder Maria Hanson MBE and her team provide a range of support including comfort packs for those rushed to hospital at short notice. The charity is also working with hospital bereavement teams.
Its new continuing care and peer support programme is there for families supported by me&dee over the years, who may have lost a family member or are going through extremely tough times.
One of the families helped by the charity is that of Taylor Lewis, of Ilkeston, who has been through more than 80 operations after having to have his hands and legs amputated as a baby due to meningitis and sepsis.
Taylor, eight, has been enjoying the swimming sessions funded by me&dee where he can enjoy the slides, without having to put on his leg blades. Another child able to come along is Lincoln Milner, of Overseal, who has been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an incurable illness which will soon mean he needs to be in a wheelchair. Not just Lincoln but his whole family: mum and dad and two sisters, can come along too.
Maria Hanson MBE said:
“We are delighted to be able to offer these swimming sessions at Moorways which are exclusively for me&dee use. Watching these children splash away in the water, go down the slides, free from any embarrassment or stress, while their parents get to watch them, is probably one of the most moving experiences we have seen in me&dee’s 17-year history. The sheer enjoyment is amazing to see. Thank you to Moorways for facilitating the sessions and allowing us use of the facilities at a charitable discount.”
Lauren Slater, Everyone Active’s activity and wellbeing manager at Moorways, said:
“We’re very happy to offer me&dee the opportunity to hold swimming sessions for children and families in our water park and sensory pool. It’s part of a range of services we offer to all sorts of different groups in the local community. These are children who love to spend time in the water but, for one reason or another, find this difficult in conventionally held swimming sessions. We’re delighted to be of service and hope that many more sessions can be arranged.”
The me&dee charity is looking for businesses to sponsor sessions at Moorways. Anyone who can help is asked to check the charity’s website: https://meanddee.co.uk/.