13 Feb 2009

A nine year old girl from Tregaron is out to prove that disability is no barrier to fun this half term.

Sioned Edwards, along with sisters Dwawr, 11, and Cara, 7, will be going to Saturday Swim Club together this school holidays, a club which ensures young people with disabilities can enjoy lessons with their able-bodied brothers and sisters.

Located in Aberaeron Pool, the swim club is opening its doors to young people aged 16 and under for free during February half-term thanks to the Welsh Assembly Government’s Free Swimming Initiative.

Sioned, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, will be spending her holiday perfecting her skills for an upcoming disability swimming gala.

The plucky youngster began swimming when she was six to help improve the flexibility in her legs, mum Sue explains:

"Swimming has been a lifesaver for Sioned. When she first started she was quite stiff, particularly in her legs, but now she moves around much more freely. Swimming has helped improve her circulation and done wonders for her confidence.

"In the water she is just like any other little girl and I think this is the most important thing of all. "

At a time when many parents will be struggling to find activities to keep their children occupied, Sue says free swimming couldn’t have come at a better time:

"Free Swimming is brilliant. It’s so hard to find things for the children to do that you can afford. These classes mean I can drop the three girls off together for an hour, giving me an extra hour to get things done! It also gets the girls out of the house, enjoying some fun time together that also keeps them active."

Aberaeron Pool Manager, Martine Branford, said the integrated Saturday Swim Club and Disability Swim Club was all about increasing accessibility for young people of all abilities to get involved in the scheme.

"It’s fantastic to see the children coming together with their friends and siblings to have a great time without worrying about whether or not their disability will restrict them. We have a strong history of encouraging young swimmers in Aberaeron which is why we’re keen to ensure children of all abilities are given the same opportunity to participate.

"It’s thanks to schemes like Free Swimming which help us provide extra staff to cater for the needs of disabled swimmers, allowing them to get the extra help they need. We are very pleased to be able to offer these specialised sessions for free this half term."

Gemma Cutter, Disability Sport Wales Development Officer for Ceredigion said:

"There is no need for disability to be a barrier for young people in the area to participate in physical activity. Our programme caters for a spectrum of abilities, for children who may only need a small amount of assistance, to those that require more intensive support."

Alun Ffred Jones, Minister for Heritage said:

"Swimming is a great way to have fun, socialise and be active. And because it's free, it's good for parents, and means that children and young people can swim regularly.

"Since its inception, the Welsh Assembly Government’s Free Swimming Initiative has been extremely popular and I look forward in the future to removing more barriers to creating a fitter and healthier Wales. "

The free taster sessions will be conducted at Aberaeron Pool on 14 and 21 February. These sessions are part of a range of activities on offer throughout Ceredigion during February half-term.

Children who participate in this free session can also join the club in term time from just £2.60.

For more information about the Free Swimming Initiative, contact your local leisure centre or visit