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Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre to trial sensory-friendly program for children

Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre aims to improve accessibility for children who have sensory challenges or additional needs by piloting Quiet Time, a twice-weekly one-hour program that will provide a low-stimulation aquatic environment.

By news@gippsland - 29th September 2022 - Back to News

During Quiet Time, the centre will ensure that noise levels in the BARC pool hall are kept to a minimum. The water features will be turned off and the spa area closed. No programming will be scheduled and recreation activities in the pool area will be restricted to those that can be achieved in the quiet space. The six-month pilot is a result of collaboration between council and the Children with Additional Needs Working Group (CWANWG).

Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre will also form the basis for developing other programs that promote inclusion

Bairnsdale Aquatic and Recreation Centre will also form the basis for developing other programs that promote inclusion

Kids with sensory issues

CWANWG contacted the council with the idea to pilot the program, which supports children and adults who experience sensory challenges or have additional needs. "We're really thankful to work with council on this really important issue," said local mother Jodie Simpson who helped introduce Quiet Time.

"The noise of the spa and buckets of water spilling into the splash pool can be really overwhelming for kids who experience sensory issues. This helps accommodate our kids at our regional pool and is a step forward to having a safer and more inclusive environment."

"We're pleased to be able to launch this important initiative," said Mayor Cr Mark Reeves, who noted the work of Councillor Kirsten Van Diggele and CWANWG in launching Quiet Time.

Providing quiet time

Mr Reeves said, "Turning off these features and offering a quiet space to swim will give more people the ability to enjoy the facility. The area will remain open to all patrons during Quiet Time periods, but pool users will be asked to avoid making loud noises.

"Sensory-friendly environments are essential to many on the autism spectrum and their families, so we're delighted we can provide Quiet Time slots," Cr Reeves said.

Quiet Time will commence Thursday 6 October and run 2.00pm - 3.00 pm every Thursday and 9.30am - 10.30am every Sunday. At the end of Term 4, council will review the program and consider trialling a weekday morning session. The trial will also form the basis for developing other programs that promote inclusion.

Pictures from Bairnsdale Aquatic & Recreation Centre Facebook page.


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