A Letter of Thanks

The letter below was sent to Andrew Price from Newman Aquatic Centre, by the parent of a young swim student, Izzy.

It is a fantastic refection on the importance and hard work of the Shire of East Pilbara's swim teachers. The teacher and Swim School Co-ordinator mentioned in the letter is Peta Brittain, pictured with Izzy below.

Izzy and her swim teacher Peta Brittain by the pool

A Lot More Than Just a Swimming Lesson...

To my autistic daughter's Swimming Teacher,

You may not have noticed that on the day my daughter had her first lesson with you, we were both jam-packed with nerves. We sat a while in the car beforehand so she could talk about everything that could happen, good and bad, in the short 30 minute lesson. This is something she needed and still needs to do; a way to cope.

Before we walked through the gate she stopped me. 'Mum, I hope she is nice.'

This has always been tough for me to hear. You see, those words are filled with too many painful memories of disappointment and damage for someone who is five. The past was crowded with teachers who had become cruel and belittled her. Yet still I smiled and explained to her that you seemed really nice; while my insides were like a stormy night at sea.

We had decided that day, if you were like the rest, I would give up on her lessons. You were our last hope. We didn't have anymore energy left to try and find someone that would understand the uniqueness of her mind. Our exhaustion was both physical and emotional. If this didn't work out I would take it on myself. I wasn't going to let this happen to her again.

It was my daughter who was hopeful, believing that the next teacher would be better, kinder. I wanted her hope. Her pure innocent outlook on life engulfs her.

I could tell from the moment you walked over to us that you were different. My daughter, as usual, jumped around and told you everything that she was thinking about. You stood and listened. Never once did you tell her to stop. I sat there and I watched my daughter's eyes sparkle as you interacted with her. You asked her questions about Kirby and her imaginary friends. You heard all the stories she wanted to tell. You both laughed as you poured water over each other and learned to do a front flip.

You were teaching her in those moments, not only how to swim and be safe in water, but how to trust and feel safe with teachers again.

You may not have noticed but I sat there and wept behind my sunglasses with tears of relief and gratitude. My daughter had found a place that she belonged, a friend that allowed her to be herself. Because of that you will never truly understand how grateful I am to have found you. So thank you.

Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for showing me that people care. Thank you for making my daughter smile. Thank you for being kind and patient with her even on her most distracted days.

Thank you for helping me to believe that good people and educators do exist. Thank you for encouraging my daughter's love of water in an enjoyable, safe and devoted environment.

The kindest regards,

Mum of an autistic girl.  

Swim and Survive Fund

You can help more children like Izzy learn to Swim and Survive by making a donation to Royal Life Saving Society WA.

small boy leaning on the edge of the pool looking up at the camera

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