My son Michael has Down syndrome, autism and a severe intellectual disability, as well as related and unrelated medical and physical conditions, including cardiac and mobility issues.
Michael has been a member and accessing activities of the Y NSW at Mt Annan Leisure Centre (MALC) for many years and will be for many years to come.
He has developed and exceeded all expectations I had for him in his physical and mental health and most of this development is directly related to his membership and engagement with MALC, the staff, the activities and the sheer joy he experiences when attending these activities and sessions.
I attend many of these sessions with him and have witnessed him do activities I would never have imagined he would ever be able to achieve considering all the obstacles he has faced with his disabilities.
Michael commenced his engagement with MALC about 10 years ago with the swimming program. He showed absolute enthusiasm engaging with these lessons and it did not take long for him to be able to do multiple tasks in the water, e.g. breaststroke, swimming under water using extended breath control, freestyle and other activities. It became evident that swimming activities were his strength and could be built on.
However, during this time it became noticeable that he had problems with his mobility and weight and he repeatedly suffered from chest infections. Swimming was able to assist him counteract these problems. In addition, the swimming program ended, however I felt strongly he need to continue and I was able to do this by paying privately for his lessons and have continued to do so. It has been the best investment to see him enjoying his swimming lessons and to see how the staff interact with him positively, encouraging him and engaging with him and clearly appreciating his interaction with them.
His mobility continued to deteriorate rapidly, so the staff at MALC suggested Michael see the exercise physiologist at the centre using funding from his NDIS plan. Michael engaged in a therapeutic exercise physiology program. Michael not only engaged with Eddie, but Eddie also became his “exercise mentor”. He engaged Michael in the program, increased his physical and cardiac wellbeing and increased his confidence. Michael can use nearly every piece of equipment in the gym.
In addition, with the constant programing geared towards his health and wellbeing, Michael no longer has repeated chest infections and it appears his immunity has improved to a point where the exercise programs have addressed that issue, thus avoiding repeated admissions to hospital.
The exercise physiologist and all the staff at MALC appear to have the skills, both professional and personal, to help assist Michael achieve a level of physical and mental health that he would never have had the opportunity to if he did not engage with the MALC. He will never end his membership and I will continue to pay for it as it is part of his lifelong journey to maintain his capacity to physically and emotionally engage with the community. I often say to Eddie and staff: “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought he would be able to achieve what he is doing.”
So I owe a big thank you to MALC for what you have done for my son.