AUTISM-FRIENDLY SWIMMING SESSIONS LAUNCHED

For immediate release:

AUTISM-FRIENDLY SWIMMING SESSIONS LAUNCHED

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey, local charity REACH Lanarkshire Autism, and Clydebridge-based company Tillicoultry Quarries have teamed up with Eastfield Leisure Centre to introduce new autism-friendly swimming sessions at the sports venue.

Many people with autism can find it difficult to cope in noisy or busy environments, potentially putting them off doing activities that they enjoy. However, making small adjustments, like turning down music, can help ensure a sensory-friendly environment.

Research shows that physical activity allows people with autism to overcome barriers they may face, such as limited motor functioning. In particular, it can also help improve children’s attention span, concentration, impulse control, and ability to follow directions.

Last year, to mark Autism Awareness month, Clare Haughey MSP started working with South Lanarkshire Lifestyle Eastfield to see whether it would be feasible to introduce specific swimming sessions to benefit local autistic children and their families.

After several months of work between the four parties, the autism-friendly sessions are now available at the leisure centre.

Commenting, Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey said:

“We know that swimming, and other recreational activities for that matter, can improve people’s physical, social and communication skills – all of which are vitally important for those living with autism.

“Our sport and leisure services should be available to as many people as possible. Therefore, as a society, if we can do more to help people feel welcome, safe and relaxed using such services, then we should certainly do what we can.

“That’s why I am delighted to have facilitated discussions to establish these new autism-friendly sessions – working with tremendous community partners in the process.”

One of these community partners is Cambuslang-based charity REACH Lanarkshire Autism. REACH has been working with the Eastfield leisure centre for a number of years, and many of their service users currently take part in swimming lesson programmes.

Stewart Hunter, Recreation Manager at the centre added:

“We have been delighted to work with REACH Lanarkshire Autism over the years – helping many of their service users enjoy swimming at our pool. It is brilliant that we are now able to expand our service through these specific autism-friendly sessions on Saturday evenings.

“Not all of our staff at Eastfield had been trained in how to create the ideal autism-friendly environment, and as a result, we were initially restricted in the support we could offer. So, I am very grateful to Tillicoultry Quarries for stepping up to pay for this training for all our staff.”

Tillicoultry Quarries, based less than a mile away from the leisure centre, are a Scotland-wide company which supplies a wide range of construction materials to help build Scotland’s roads, buildings and infrastructure.

Through their relationship with Clare Haughey MSP, they offered to pay for the necessary training for the staff at Eastfield. As a result of this training, the leisure centre will be able to modify their sessions to create a calmer atmosphere in and around the pool.

Wallace Menzies, Director of Tillicoultry Quarries said:

“Being family owned and people driven, we are delighted to have been able to contribute to this venture.”

The sessions for children with autism and their families, which are closed to the rest of the public, take place on Saturdays between 5pm and 6pm – and cost £8.45 for a family.

To find out more, or to book your place, contact Alison Dorrans at Lifestyle Eastfield on 0141 642 9500 or at Alison.dorrans@southlanarkshireleisure.co.uk.

ENDS

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