Fundraisers open up doors for Lilly

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MAKING A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE: Five year old Lillyarna Kendall loves to swim. Being in the pool, supported by swimming teachers such as Prue Holmes, is a major source of joy for the young Wangaratta resident, who has Apert syndrome. Lilly is among the locals who currently benefit from the YMCA’s Open Doors funding for swim lessons, an initiative which is the focus of a fundraising day at the Olympic Pool on Sunday. PHOTO: Emma Hillier

NICOLE Kennedy admits she can barely contain her emotions as she watches daughter Lillyarna’s swimming lessons.

Lilly, 5, has Apert syndrome (a genetic condition resulting in fusion of the bones), and Nicole said the progress she had seen in her sessions at the Wangaratta Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre had been amazing.

From improvements in Lilly’s balance, concentration and breathing, to her general confidence, and assistance in recovery from leg surgery which initially left her wheelchair-bound, Nicole said she had witnessed many forward steps.

“There are days I’m sitting on the sidelines laughing at the fun Lilly and Prue (swim teacher Prue Holmes) are having, or almost in tears watching how much she enjoys it and learns,” she said.

Nicole said the assistance of YMCA Open Doors, for which funds will be raised in an event at the Olympic pool on Sunday, had been an essential part of accessing those lessons.

Nicole identified swimming, through regular Early Childhood Intervention Service (ECIS) goal-setting, as something she was keen to make a priority for Lilly.

“It was really important for me that she was going to learn to swim, it’s such an important life skill that she needs, but to have the one-on-one lessons she’s been receiving was out of my reach,” Nicole said.

“Our ECIS physiotherapist worked on getting funding, which ran for term four last year, and once that finished, the YMCA approached me and said they’d like to put me in for selection for Open Doors funding.

“I was so overwhelmed when they asked, and when we received a support package that enables us to go to (WISAC) for one-on-one lessons for two terms.”


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