Antonio, his brother, and their mother are newcomers to our community. They immigrated to Fallbrook from Colombia in the middle of last school year- Antonio’s family only spoke Spanish, and Antonio was completely non-verbal. Antonio’s new school reached out to our organization for help because he was struggling before, during, and after school, both academically and socially. He was prone to volatile emotional outbursts and had a very hard time connecting with other people.
Antonio started his summer by attending summer school during the morning and recreational swimming in the afternoon. He had absolutely no experience in a pool prior to this June, and he taught himself how to walk around in the shallow end and how to put his face into the water.
In July, Antonio started swimming lessons. His brother Ale had learned from his peers how to pass the deep-end test, and Antonio wanted to catch up to him. Antonio could learn by listening to our Spanish-speaking lifeguards and by watching demonstrations- thus, he caught on quickly and improved rapidly. He excelled at the sport, and his confidence grew exponentially with each lesson. In one month, Antonio went from a level 1 beginner to a level 4 swimmer!
The water is soothing to the senses, and as long as he eats snack, he can successfully swim for 3 hours during recreational swim time each afternoon. His emotional outbursts were half as frequent as before the pool opened, and he started making friends. He has learned to say a few words in Spanish and English (si, no, and splash), and he and the pool staff communicated using a blend of made-up sign language and Spanish.
We are so glad that Antonio became a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North County. It has been a joy to watch him flourish in our program, and his growth has been an inspiration to us all.