Building the Aqua Abilities programs within existing family YMCA's was a wonderful way to develop the idea of full participation by people of all abilities. However, making accommodations in existing facilities requires a number of compromises. With only one pool available for all users, the water temperature of the pool has to meet everyone's needs. Set at 85 degrees, the water is at the warm end of the range for a 'cool water pool' but well below the temperature of a 'warm water pool', which typically would be kept at 92-94 degrees. Similarly, while they have made great strides toward making the physical facilities accessible, the costs of remodeling and retrofitting more existing buildings can make building a new, universally designed facility seem a very attractive alternative. Bess Maxwell sees the future of ShowMe as having two phases. 'Currently, we run a program for people with disabilities who come to the pool and water-walk or do whatever exercises they can. They leave their wheelchairs and learn the freedom of the water. Soon, we hope to have a true community pool that everyone can join. A place that has been designed from the very beginning to accommodate everyone.'
And this dream is moving rapidly toward realization. In February of 2003, Missouri Senator Kit Bond was present at the unveiling of final plans for a $15.3 million project to build a new ShowMe Aquatic and Fitness Center in St. Charles County. The senator, who was honored for his role in securing $1 million in federal funds for the construction project, described the new facility as a 'world-class center... specifically designed to accommodate all kinds of people with disabilities' and 'ensure a much healthier population and make the benefits of exercise available to the entire population.' The campaign to raise the needed funds is in full swing. Among the Honorary Key Leaders of the fund-raising campaign are Christopher and Dana Reeve and the First Things First Foundation of Kurt and Brenda Warner.
|An artist drawing of ShowMe Aquatic and Fitness Center in St. Charles County.|
Beginning with something as basic as the desire for friends and family to share recreation, ShowMe Aquatics demonstrates how hard work, dedication, and community support can make a good idea blossom into a great benefit to the entire community. You can learn more about ShowMe Aquatics at the ShowMe Aquatics website.