Violet Blossoms in Y Camp
He admits he may be bias but says, “Violet is an amazing little girl,” gushes Rich Clements of his 6-year-old daughter.
Violet had her first experience at camp this summer at the Bob Gilbertson Central City Family YMCA. “She was diagnosed with mild Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 3 and works so hard at therapy twice a week, that we wanted her to get a little break from that and interact with more neuro-typical kids,” says Rich.
But it wasn’t an easy adjustment for Violet. The counselors also were not formally trained to work with special needs children, but promised Rich they would do everything they could to accommodate her. “She exhibited some serious anxiety the first few weeks of camp. Being around new faces, loud noises and authority figures took some time for her to adjust,” Rich says. “I am so grateful for the patience the counselors showed and the support from the fellow campers that got her through those difficult early sessions.”
Violet’s dad says his daughter’s comfort level increased every day thanks to the counselors. “I cannot thank the team there enough. I think once she trusted them, she felt safe and was able to follow directions better and enjoy herself more,” he says.
Violet’s dad says his daughter loved the pool but did not know how to swim and wearing a life jacket proved challenging. “I think the most memorable for me was witnessing her earn her swimmer’s green band. It was such an amazing experience to be there and record the test while fellow campers, YMCA members in the pool and lifeguards all cheered her on as she swam,” says Rich. “Although she cried the whole time, I could see the determination on her face. When Violet got out of the pool shivering, they put on her green band and I could see the huge smile on her face and sense of pride.”
Rich says the experience reminded him of his deceased father who used to cheer on his family during sporting events. “I was barely able to hold back tears,” he shares. “I was so proud.”
At the YMCA, to help ensure water safety we employ a swim check system that clearly and easily identifies what level a swimmer is in, and what areas of the pool the child can frequent. The green band is the highest safety level a swimmer can receive. Learn more about the Y’s year-round private and group swim lessons.
Pictured above: Violet, 6, proudly displays her green band with her Y swim instructor Meghan Sadowski.