Chugging Around With a Wet Toot
Tribune photo published August 10, 1951
This is perhaps the first time a choo-choo train ever deliberately got wet with no ill effects, but these Ames toddlers are enthusiastically chugging around the pylon “airifier” at Carr’s pool. The youngsters, along with those older girls who act as instructors, come to the pool four days a week for beginning swimming lessons. Mrs. Donna Carr Davis is in charge of the 130 odd tots who are "getting used to what water is" so that they lose their fear of it. They may not learn to swim this year, for the youngest pupils are only two, and the oldest are only five or younger. but they may nearly learn to swim, and if they don't, by the time the four weeks of lessons are completed, they have conquered their fear of the water, and enjoy playing in the beautiful blue-green waves. Helping Mrs. Davis are her assistants, Nancy Getz, Nancy Winslow, Mary Ann Schultz, Karen Anderson, with special instruction and the third Nancy who is a water baby of long standing -- Nancy Carr. The lessons are free to all Ames children, and are sponsored by the Kiwanis club. It's the largest group yet to swim. - more about Carr's Pool -
Afternoon scene at Carr's Pool, 1951
Tribune photo published July 31, 1951
Is there anything better to do on a hot day? Assisted by Donna Carr Davis, four-year-old Princy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James L. Jensen, 715 North Hyland, is taking advantage of a swimming program offered four afternoons weekly at Carr's pool by the Story County Society for Crippled Children.
"The other day Princy got up on her knees all by herself," Mrs. James L. Jensen, 715 No. Hyland, said of her four-year-old daughter, Princetta. "I think the swimming program helped her. I've been trying to get her to do that for two years."
For any other mother such a feat by a four-year-old would not be worth mentioning. But for a child with cerebral palsy, such as Princy, it's a big step towards learning to walk. That swimming program Mrs. Jensen praised is the one conducted four afternoons a week at Carr's pool under the auspices of the Story County Society for Crippled Children.
Fifteen handicapped children, aged 4 to 14, have been attending the afternoon sessions. They are supervised by Mrs. Joe Zaletel, physical therapist, and Donna Carr Davis, swimming instructor.
The swimming program for handicapped children has been in operation for a month and has been continued for two weeks more by the Story County society. Another two weeks will be added to that if enough funds to sustain the program comes in from individuals and organizations. Mrs. John van der Linden, case work chairman, estimated that the program's costs totaled $200 a month for salaries and other incidental expenses such as transportation, medical care and clothing.
Mrs. Jensen's statement about her daughter, Princy is an indication of the benefit the children derive from water therapy.
Mrs. Zaletel, physical therapist in charge of the afternoon sessions, said, "Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises. the purpose of water therapy is to allow overstrained muscles to relax and the strengthen weakened muscles."
In spastic type paralysis, she said, such as that resulting from cerebral palsy, overstrained muscles become tense. "The main problem is to slow down the muscles and get coordination. Swimming is particularly good for that purpose."
... in cerebral palsy, overstrained muscles become tense. "The main problem is to slow down the muscles and get coordination. Swimming is particularly good for that purpose." In post polio cases, strengthening of weakened muscles is the main object. "The buoyancy of the water holds the weight of the arm. All the child has to do is pull." She cited the example of one child who cannot walk out of water but can swim a few strokes by herself in water.
With all of the children relaxation and coordination are the two main benefits derived from the swimming program. If the children learn to relax and coordinate muscles out of water through the experience gained in the water, parents, doctors and program officials will be happy, for the youngsters will have shown an overall gain.
Children can learn to relax in water better than anywhere else because water supports their weight and relieves muscles from the strain of supporting that weight, Mrs. Zaletel said. That factor also makes it possible to get better coordination in water, she added.
However, besides the physical benefit, there's also an important mental gain for the child. With a pool full of children, he learns social habits -- many of the children because of restricted physical movement, have not gained much experience in being with groups of children. Thus the child gains confidence in himself as an individulal as he sees his own improvement, and as a member of a group, as he becomes at ease in group situations.
Most of the children have overcome their fear of water since participating in the program. In fact, most of them had never been in a pool before. One little boy who, at first, refused to even dip a toe in the water is now such a swimming enthusiast, his parents are considering private swimming lessons for him.
The swimming sessions for handicapped children are held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week. Each child gets 20 minutes of exercises, play and swimming instruction each of the four days.
Each of the children was accepted for the program on a doctor's recommendation. Mrs. van der Linden said that she is still receiving requests from doctors for other children. The society hopes to be able to expand the program in future years, she said, and if possilbe make the program a year-round one, if necessary funds become available. Use of Carr's pool has been donated this summer.
Mrs. van der Linden stated that the society is seeking names of handicapped children who might benefit from the program. The swimming program for handicapped children under the auspices of the Story county society was conducted for the first time last August with five children participating.