Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school are very proud to announce that their little swimmers from across the country, who took part in Water Babies Splashathon 2015, have raised €16,000 for four children’s charities – The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation, the Children’s Unit in Cork University Hospital, Hand in Hand in Galway and Kilkenny’s Down Syndrome Branch.
The Jack & Jill Foundation, which has assisted 1,900 children since 1997, will receive €10,000 which will fund 625 hours of nursing care and support for children with severe neurological development issues, as well as offering some respite to the parents and families.
Water Babies Splashathon, which took place earlier this year, also raised vital funds for the Kilkenny branch of Down Syndrome Ireland (€2,000), The Children’s Unit in Cork University Hospital (€2,000) and Hand in Hand based in Galway (€2,000) which helps the families’ of young cancer patients.
During Water Babies Splashathon fundraising week, babies and toddlers who attend classes around Ireland completed sponsored challenges in Water Babies classes, from swimming solo underwater to swimming through a hoop or even completing a ‘Splashathon’ circuit challenge in the pool!
Carol McNally who runs Water Babies classes across Leinster said “We are delighted we have been able to raise €16,000 for a number of children’s charities this year. Thanks to the generosity of parents and families of children who swim with us, Water Babies Splashathon has raised over €116,000 euros since we launched Water Babies in Ireland six years ago.“
Jonathan Irwin CEO of Jack & Jill said ‘We are so proud and honoured to be one of Water Babies Splashathon’s recipient charities. Every cent raised will fund vital home nursing hours for sick children in every community in Ireland. On behalf of all the families we support today, I thank all involved.”
About Water Babies
Since it was co-founded by Paul Thompson in 2002, Water Babies has grown into the world’s largest baby swim school, today teaching more than 41,000 babies every week through a network of family businesses across the UK and Ireland.
Having fun and enjoying the water is the primary aim – so Water Babies rarely feel like they are in a lesson. However because the course is highly structured, most will happily be swimming distances underwater by about 30 months, then naturally start swimming on the surface as their strength increases.
Water Babies is the only baby swimming school with its own pool consultancy service, passing on its expertise to pools across the UK and Ireland. Water Babies is also the only swim company to have its own in-house, award-winning underwater baby photography unit. Last year, more than 100,000 individual underwater shots were taken by its skilled photographers.
In June 2012 Water Babies teamed up with The University of Manchester to undertake a research study which will be the first of its kind to examine the physical and psychological impact of structured, taught baby swimming classes on parents, babies and the family unit as a whole.
In June 2014 Water Babies featured on ITV’s Secret Lives of Babies.
Water Babies Autumn Term commences at the end of August. For further information log onto www.waterbabies.ie
What makes Water Babies different?
Babies have natural reflexes that mean they instinctively hold their breath when submerged. However, the Water Babies course actually teaches babies to control their breathing instead of relying on reflexes, thus negating the risk of water inhalation and giving the babies a sense of being fully in control.
The core points of difference between Water Babies classes and mainstream baby swimming lessons are:
- We teach babies from birth. Our youngest pupil was just two days old, but normally they start at around six weeks.
- The course is highly structured, including clear progression, aims and objectives and detailed lesson plans
- We teach without the use of flotation devices. This is in order to prevent children developing a false sense of security and because the water naturally supports their body weight
- Children lack the strength or co-ordination to swim on the surface until at least two years. From birth we enable them to swim short distances underneath, allowing them to move freely without constraints of gravity
How qualified are Water Babies teachers?
Our swimming teachers are the only ones who can obtain a nationally recognised diploma in baby swimming, which has been developed in conjunction with England’s national governing body for swimming, the ASA.
- All Water Babies teachers must first complete their mainstream swimming qualifications with the ASA, before commencing the intensive Water Babies training course. All teachers must also be qualified lifesavers, renewed bi-annually and be DBS-checked.
- With the 300+ hours each Water Babies teacher invests to become fully qualified, they could train to be a private pilot… five times over!
- In July 2011 we signed a skills pledge with the Institute of Swimming (IoS) to provide premium education and training in baby and pre-school swimming, which means that the Water Babies programme is now endorsed by the ASA.
About Jack & Jill
The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation is an Irish children’s charity set up in 1997 by Jonathan Irwin and his wife, Senator Mary Ann O’Brien (founder Lily O’Brien’s Chocolate) based on their own experience caring for their son Jack at home until he passed away in December 1997 aged 22 months. Over the past 18 years, Jack & Jill has supported over 1,900 children (from birth to 4 years old) with brain damage who suffer severe intellectual and physical trauma and the Foundation also provides end of life care for all children who require it from birth to 4 years of age. The nationwide service includes home visits and care, advice, information, lobbying and bereavement support, with the Foundation providing funding for up to 64 hours of home nursing care per month at a cost of up to €1024 per family and up to 80 hours per month for end of life care. With less than 20% of its funding coming from the State, the Jack & Jill Foundation relies on the generosity of the public and fundraising campaigns such as Waterbabies ‘Splashathon’ to keep going.
About CUH (Cork University Hospital) Children’s Unit
Over 10,000 children attend the Children’s Unit, (which comprises of the Puffin, Seahorse and Ladybird Wards) at Cork University Hospital every year. Through our charity partnership with Waterbabies Splashathon, all valuable funds raised will assist in the upgrade and refurbishment of the Unit which has not been upgraded since 1978 and provide much-needed state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. With the help of Water Babies, CUH will make every child’s journey a little easier by continuing to deliver the best paediatric care that our children deserve, right across the region, in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford. Our communities and our children deserve the best healthcare facilities and patient care.
About Hand in Hand
Hand in Hand was established by a group of volunteers in 2006 who were inspired by a two-year-old Galway girl who was receiving treatment for leukaemia in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Dublin. Originally known as CD’s Helping Hand, the charity underwent a rebrand in 2011. Our original founders’ main aim was to help children with cancer in the West of Ireland who have the added dimension of travelling long distances to Dublin for their primary care and treatment. In most cases there are other siblings to care for while Mum, Dad or guardians travel to Dublin or to local hospitals to treat infections with their sick child. Hand in Hand’s focus has always been to give sick children and their families on-the-ground support in order to minimise the impact that both the diagnosis and frequent long distance travel for treatment has on family life.
About Down Syndrome Kilkenny
Down Syndrome Kilkenny is a voluntary association consisting of parents and families working to improve the lives of and act as a support to families of those with DS. Down Syndrome Kilkenny is run on a voluntary basis by members and offer a range of activities, outings, services and supports in Kilkenny. DS Kilkenny is funded through donations and local fundraisers throughout the year.