Crosby Leisure Centre in Merseyside, operated by Parkwood Leisure, has introduced a scheme in partnership with Aiming High Short Breaks to give 30 children access to weekly swim and splash sessions for six months.

The scheme kicked off in January 2024 with funding from Equitix Ltd, Waterfront and Parkwood Leisure and has been enjoyed by participants and their families. With access to weekly public swim sessions and monthly Atlantis Splash sessions with the pool inflatables, children with autism have been able to enjoy fun-filled activities in a supportive environment at Crosby Leisure Centre.

Where many children often hesitate to get involved with swimming activities, this scheme provides a safe haven for anyone who may have previously felt isolated. With staff on hand, the children have the support to develop their swimming skills in a comfortable and encouraging environment. 

Contract Manager on behalf of Parkwood Leisure, Lee Carnwell, confirmed that the initiative has been met with enthusiasm from the community: “We are delighted with the positive impact the scheme is having on these children. It is amazing that this initiative is not only promoting physical activity and improving mental wellbeing, but helping to alleviate feelings of anxiety and social isolation often felt by children with autism.”

Going beyond improving practical swimming skills, these sessions have helped improve the children’s confidence to explore new activities and develop their social skills further.

John Doran, Assistant Manager of Sefton Councils Aiming High Team, commented: “The Atlantis sessions have been a fantastic addition to the Aiming High programme for many reasons. It has given many of our children, who have been reluctant to join in on swimming and water sessions, the confidence to get involved.”

“The distraction of having so much fun on the inflatable has helped their confidence grow and has diminished the anxiety that a lot of disabled children have over trying new venues and activities. It has also given them a pathway to access public swim sessions to help with their swimming skills and social skills.”

Parkwood Leisure is constantly looking to forge partnerships and relationships that will help towards our goals of promoting inclusion and fostering a sense of community amongst its leisure centres.