Pool helps McKenna keep up

McKenna (1) and Sioban Gray, of Dunedin, spend time at the Otago Therapeutic Pool. Photo by Peter...
McKenna (1) and Sioban Gray, of Dunedin, spend time at the Otago Therapeutic Pool. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

It seems McKenna Gray can't wait to get going. Much to her mum's dismay, she was born more than two months early.

And nearly two years on, she is still in a hurry - especially when it comes to swimming at the Otago Therapeutic Pool.

Sioban Gray says her daughter looks forward to it every week, and can't wait to get splashing, often asking if it is time for swimming yet.

Mrs Gray said while it was not obvious, being born at 31 weeks meant McKenna was prone to slower development, both physically and mentally.

However, the physio pool was having a major impact on keeping her motor skills and physical development on a par with other children her age.

''She's not behind. Being premature, it just takes a while for her to catch up with things like crawling, standing and walking.

''Because the physio pool is a warmer temperature - it's hotter than the other pools - it helps the muscles to relax, so they move a bit more easily in the pool.''

Since the age of 10 months, McKenna had been in a group called the Vera Hayward Centre for premature babies and children with developmental issues, Mrs Gray said .

Closing the physio pool would have a detrimental impact, not only on McKenna's development but on other people with disabilities.

She said the facility provided a warmer environment (35.5degC, as opposed to 28degC at Moana Pool) which was easier for children to tolerate, especially those who had temperature control or sensory issues.

The changing facilities for children with special needs were more appropriate in terms of access and space; the pool environment was quiet, which meant less disturbance and more concentration for children with special needs; and there was an atmosphere of acceptance of disability at the physio pool where nobody stared, she said.

Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust secretary treasurer Neville Martin said the fundraising total had risen to more than $115,000 in the past week.

The trust aimed to raise $1.5 million for capital upgrades and operational funding.

The trust was a charity and people's donations were tax-deductible, he said.john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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