Little Heroes Swim Academy For Special Needs Kids
The Little Heroes Academy has come a long way in just two years. The facility has grown from just a handful of pupils and swimming teachers on Bondi Beach, to a swim academy thathas over 400 students and operates out of various indoor and outdoor facilities across NSW.
Co-founder Tracey Ayton worked for several large aquatic swim schools as their coordinator and program manager before deciding to “jump off the cliff” and do something about the need she saw for swim programs tailored to special needs children. She describes it as the “best decision she ever made”.
Tracey, and her two co-founders, Shun Thangathurai and Chris Liu, established The Little Heroes Academy in 2012 after receiving a government grant.
“We constantly saw the need for swimming lessons for these children and could see that there were huge waiting lists for programs,” explains Tracey. “We also knew that the standard of these programs could be improved and the opportunities offered also extended to the families.”
Tracey believes that it is important the whole family is involved in the learning process so the Little Heroes Swim Academy caters not only to special needs children, but to the entire family.
“We take our students and their families to the beach so they can experience it together,” she explains. “The beach program teaches everyone how to swim more safely at the beach, which provides the students with more confidence and a feeling of independence.
“Our programs cater to children of all ages and each student is assessed to determine their level of expertise and level of duty of care we need to provide to them.”
For Tracey, who has two sons who have been national-level swimmers, working with children gives her much joy.
“Seeing a child who cannot walk on land given freedom of movement in the water, and seeing a child who cannot communicate learn to trust you to take them out of their comfort zone is just so inspiring,” she says. “My job is very rewarding. We all laugh a lot at work and have a huge amount of fun with our students.”
The Little Heroes Academy has now expanded to the NSW south coast and is hoping to soon open a branch in QLD. It has come a long way since its early days of operating out of Tracey’s home. There are now formal headquarters with three administrative employees and 15 teachers on staff.
“Our aim is to build our own centre as a base and office and we believe we have the passion and drive to make this happen,” says Tracey.
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