This weeks blog post features a letter written by Nicola Bamber of Bambers Inclusive Swimming
For us, it highlights a few key themes:
👉 Bambers Inclusive Swimming is a great example of how a family has rallied together to support and provide opportunities not only to their own children, but to others too.
👉 Perhaps the greatest part of their story is that they’ve handed over autonomy and responsibility to those who were once participants and learners. You’ve likely heard of the phrase “nothing about us without us” in regards to neurodiversity; well Bambers' strategy is a great example of how this concept can be achieved in actuality.
Given the right understanding and support, at the crucial early stages of learning, most neurodivergent and/or disabled people can and will excel beyond the expectations of themselves and others. Sport and exercise can provide a safe and structured environment for this learning and progress to take place.
👉 Unfortunately, these opportunities are currently few and far between, reflected in the low employment rates of Autistic people (at just 20% - a percentage likely far lower in the sport and recreation sector). But, stories like the Bambers' suggest we’re missing out on an easy win - an opportunity to upskill and encourage a lot of people. People who currently feel both dis-abled and disillusioned.
🏊♀️💪 Oh, and when it comes to Autism, swimming seems to be by far the most popular sport! Maybe because of the soothing nature of water… whatever the reason, it seems like an important area for investment.
Bambers Inclusive CIC
“We are a group of out of the box thinkers, with many years’ experience teaching disabled people to swim. It all began with Jasmine the youngest Bamber. As a young child the only place she wanted to leave the house to go to was the swimming pool. We used to spend hours at the pool with her just floating and lying on the bottom of the pool. Jasmine was enrolled in swimming lessons where the teacher told me I was wasting my money. From that moment on I (Nicola) an experienced SEND Mum set out to create the provision my children needed.
Today we have 3 sites, one in the High Peak Derbyshire and 2 in Manchester. Providing swimming for 160 disabled young people each week. We are Occupational Therapy based led by our very own Occupational Therapist and director of the CIC Ellie Bamber. So, each child has a person-centred experience and learns at their own pace, without having to meet unreasonable expectations.
To keep us sustainable we teach our older swimmers how to teach our younger children: we provide them with Swimming Teacher Qualifications which allows them to get paid work at local pools and Swim Schools.
Our first success story is the final Bamber, Alan. He is a fully qualified Swimming Teacher and Coach, who works as a school swimming teacher and who is also Head Coach at a local swimming club. We hope Alan can be an inspiration to other Autistic young people.
We think of Bambers as our Butterfly. The Butterfly effect is the idea that a small change will make a huge difference to a person’s future by teaching them a life skill while growing their confidence, teaching them how to learn and improving their wellbeing. It allows people who would struggle with ‘classic’ exercise pathways to have fun and do something that aids their body and their minds.”
Great job Nicola and co! 💪