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Stepping stones to success

Dec 10, 2018

Beautiful successes. When they happen, they’re like watching fireworks – especially when it comes to watching my own daughter succeed.

When Linden was about three years old, she was introduced to swimming lessons through a local community program.

Like a lot of kids who start swimming lessons, Linden was terrified of the pool. At her first lesson, she kept exclusively to the pool deck. But unlike most kids, Linden refused to step into the pool for the entire multi-week set of lessons.

At that point, I put swimming lessons on hold for Linden.

Children with autism are more than 160 times more likely to drown.

In 2014, Linden received her autism diagnosis. At the time, she was five years old. While exploring the different services available in our community, I saw that Canucks Autism Network (CAN) offered swim lessons. Immediately, I regained hope.

This is when CAN jumped in with us.

I enrolled Linden in their swim program later that year. She was still terrified of the water. But CAN met her at her level.

The swim instructor didn’t rush her. She hung out with her in the little pool, where the water wouldn’t go above her waist, since that is where Linden felt most in control. And they just played.

Left photo: A young girl and swim coach playing in the shallow end of the pool. Right photo: A young girl floats in the water while supported by her coach.

Seeing that was magical. Beyond making Linden comfortable in the water, she helped her enjoy the pool. It was a dream come true to see that someone understood Linden when she was most vulnerable.

Since then, we have not looked back. After about a year, Linden was able to successfully put her entire face in the water!

I will never forget that day. Given where she started, it felt like something completely out of this world. Linden was so proud of herself. We all were. The staff and volunteers all stopped to cheer and celebrate her.

Linden was beaming – I will never forget her smile.

No matter how big or small the accomplishment, CAN has always been incredible at making sure Linden knew just how proud they were of her.

Over the next few years, CAN’s staff and volunteers continued to work with Linden – always at her pace. Following her lead, they pushed her just enough. They built this amazing circle of trust that eased her fears with each new skill. One week at a time.

This Fall season alone, 252 children with autism were waitlisted for CAN Swim.

Linden flourished. And with time, patience and lots of love, she was able to swim independently with CAN right by her side. Amazing.

This summer, I decided that Linden was ready to move forward from the CAN swim program. After completing CAN’s Level 2 Red Cross program, I enrolled her into a regular swim class.

With years of experience in CAN programs at her back, Linden successfully transitioned to a community rec program and earned her very first swim badge at Level 3.

Because of CAN, Linden is thriving. She is resilient. She CAN!

They have provided her with this incredible stepping stone. From being terrified of the water at age 3, she is now mastering typical swim lessons.

To all the staff and volunteers that have worked with Linden for years – you have given my girl confidence and determination.

To all the donors, who make these programs possible — thank you.

What an incredible, lifelong gift.

-Jessica Norman

Your contribution of $39.16 would provide a child with autism with one swim lesson within our 8-week program.

Will you consider making a gift that will last far beyond the holiday season? Make your contribution before January 1st, 2020 and it will be doubled by a generous donor!

Make a contribution today.