In our community surrounded by water, it’s vital that children learn to swim. For parents of a child with special needs, the challenge of keeping your child safe around water can seem insurmountable. We believe that water safety is a skill that benefits all children, and we have seen the positive effects that aquatics programs have on children with disabilities. Our experience indicates that the water is often a place where children with special needs can thrive, a place to build confidence and experience joy – with the right approach.

Our program provides private swim lessons to children with disabilities with three goals:

  • Increasing their skills to be safe in and around water.
  • Providing them with the foundation for a lifelong recreational pursuit.
  • Transitioning the children, where possible, into group lessons to continue their skill progression and social development.
Diverse Abilities

The YMCA’s swim lesson program follows a proven curriculum that identifies milestones at each stage of learning, from water discovery and exploration all the way through stroke mechanics. We use our standard assessment for the participants in this program as we do in our mainstream lessons.

Lessons are taught one-on-one at the Bear Levin Studer Family YMCA. Program participants must be age 2 or older. Community members who are not Y members are welcome.

Parents and caregivers work directly with the instructor to find a time that works. We receive referrals from local agencies and welcome self-referrals from parents.


This program is made possible by a grant from the Studer Foundation.

Diverse Abilities Child

Request a Diverse Ability Swim Lesson

Important information: 

Private lessons must be canceled or rescheduled within 24hrs of appointment or you will be responsible for the cost of the appointment. Participant waiver must be completed at the time of this form.