Olympic Dreams Begin Here! SWIMkids USA

The same night as the Parade of Nations for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Rio’s Maracanã Stadium was going on, a second Parade of Nations was happening in Mesa at SWIMkids USA.

The Rio parade was awe-inspiring as it featured top athletes from across the globe marching together including Gilbert gymnast Alex Naddor, Tempe diver Sam Dorman and legendary swimmer with Tempe ties, Michael Phelps who was carrying the American flag.

The Mesa Parade of Nations was charming as it featured children from Gilbert, Tempe and other East Valley cities who were waving flags from different countries around the world as they marched around the SWIMkids USA facility where they are in the early stages of  learning to swim or do gymnastics.

Even if the little swimmers and gymnasts are not taking lessons to be a future Olympian, they are gaining so many life skills from simply participating in sports. They are learning discipline,  goal setting and they are gaining self confidence.

Every athlete in the games of the XXXI Olympiad started learning in a facility just like the swim school they East Valley students are learning in. It is in community swim, gym centers or recreation facilities where the foundation for their future success was laid. The athletes then with long and hard hours of learning and practicing became the elite athletes that everyone can admire.

The children who were in the Mesa parade see from the Arizona athletes in Rio that Olympic dreams begin in cities just like the ones they are growing up in. They see that friendly competition can be fun and they learned by being part of a the SWIMkids USA Parade of Nations that the world is a wonderful place.

 

Music therapy inspires pediatric patient to help others through Blake’s Miracle Festival

Music and Massage Therapy

By Sue Breding

My heart filled with pride when I saw her in December 2014. It was winter and yet this second-grader was all decked-out in a swim suit, goggles and a very determined look.

Aria Anderson started her first day of swim lessons and began her goal of participating in the annual Blake’s Miracle Festival’s SWIMkid-a-thon http://www.blakesmiracle.org which raises money for Banner Children’s at Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

Aria looked at the lap pool and took a deep breath.  Then, the 7-year-old from Chandler, Ariz. jumped in and made it to the center before she stopped. She was too afraid to go to go all the way to the end. It wasn’t long, though,  before she grew stronger and more confidant through her weekly training sessions.

But for Aria, this is nothing new.  Overcoming fear is a skill she knows a lot about.

The first time I met Aria was in February, 2014 and she had braids and monkey pajamas.  She was lying in a hospital bed – a patient at Cardon Children’s Medical Center where medical experts were helping her overcome complications from brain surgery.

Aria had endured multiple stays in the hospital and weeks away from home.

But the one bright spot amid the treatments and technology were visits by Angela Wibben, a music therapist, at Cardon Children’s.  While playing instruments and singing may seem  like pure fun, it really helps children cope with pain and anxiety during their hospital stay.

“It’s someone who’s coming in, who’s not going to poke them and who’s there to have fun,” her mother, Tina Anderson, said.

During  her stays at Cardon Children’s Aria welcomed the various  forms of integrative therapy,  such as massage, pet and aromatherapy, that was available.

“All of these things teach children coping skills they can use for the rest of their lives,” said Teri Reyburn-Orne, Cardon Children’s Pain Management team manager.

Once out of the hospital Aria’s focus switched focus to other children currently in Cardon Children’s with the goal of participating in the Blake’s Miracle Festival’s SWIMkid-a-thon.

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music to accomplish individual patient comfort goals with the help of a board certified music therapist when a child is in pain.

Research shows music therapy can be used to:

  • Reduce pain and enhance the effects of medication
  • Reduce stress and anxiety due to illness and hospitalization
  • Foster socialization and communication to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Normalize the hospital environment

Since 2006,  Blake’s Miracle Festival has raised about a quarter of a million dollars to make  integrative therapy free of charge at Cardon Children’s. Music therapy is usually not covered by insurance.  The Whitehead family started this event to create a miracle for other children after the loss of their precious family member Blake, who was almost two-years-old and fought a brave battle with leukemia. Just like Aria, Blake loved to swim and loved the music therapy he received when he was in the hospital and in pain.

To find out more about Blake’s miracle, please visit. http://www.blakesmiracle.org

Fighting Childhood Depression with FITkids USA

At SWIMkids USA, we highlight the development of the entire child, rather than simply focusing on swimming alone.

A new study has found that keeping your kids (especially girls) in shape helps to fight the symptoms of depression. We’re not surprised! After all, how many times has a walk in the fresh air made you feel better? Imagine the benefits of daily exercise!

Here’s an excerpt from the press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can read the full article here, or check out what the APA wrote here.

” ‘Fitness is not a cure-all, but it’s a small piece of a larger problem,’ said Ruggero. He noted that depression is also linked to a higher body mass index (BMI), a measurement used to assess if a person has a healthy weight for their height. In addition, middle school is a time when fitness levels drop off, weight increases and depression increases.”

In the spring, we realized that we needed to do more to combat the American obesity epidemic. In response, our team of childhood development experts created FITkids USA, and piloted the program this summer.

Now, it’s here to stay.

The hour-long physical conditioning class is for both the elite athlete and the sedentary child. We work to develop their skill in everything from plyometrics to flexibility and core strength.

Give your kids what they need for a more confident future.

Check out our Facebook page for our latest updates and information about FITkids USA!

 

 

DANCEkids USA Boosts Brains!

Our dancers are already excited for the 2014 Winter Recital!

Our dancers are already excited for the 2014 Winter Recital!

Lately, we have been blogging all about the brain boosting benefits of swimming at an early age.

But did you know that dancing helps develop the brain, too? At SWIMkids USA, we cross-train athletes in dance to improve coordination and rhythm. Whether it’s hip-hop, ballet, tap or jazz, our DANCEkids USA program does it all.

So, why is dancing so beneficial to a child’s brain development? Well, it helps the brain to form better judgement and forethought, and helps the organ produce a protein that stimulates neural communication- that means smoother social interactions, and faster reaction times.

How can your child reap those benefits?

The answer is simple. Dance at least once per week! And that could mean formal classes, or casual dance parties around the dishwasher during chore time.

In fact, we’re giving you the chance to try the fruits of dance! Saturdays August 23 and September 6, we’ll be bouncing to the beat with our Back to School Dance Parties, and on Saturday, August 30, we’re hosting a Family Fitness Zumba Party. It’s only $5 for each participant, so sign up and get dancing!

Call us at (480)820-9109 for more information, or to sign up for a dance trial class or one of our parties.

And remember- keep dancing!

Your Swimmer is Going to be a Brainiac!

Can you say, SCHOLARSHIP?

Our job teaching students at SWIMkids USA is so worth it. We’re both saving lives and preparing our students for successful college careers.

Wait a second. That seems like an awful lot to assert, right? Wrong!

From 2009 to 2013, researchers from Griffith University collected data from our swim school students (as well as little swimmers from Australia and New Zealand), and what they discovered is truly amazing.

On average, early swimmers are seven months ahead of their peers in motor achievement, as well as 10 months ahead both cognitively and linguistically. So that means: advanced development in locomotion, grasping skills and visual motor integration. Cognitively and linguistically, the early-developed abilities include better mathematic reasoning, reading and comprehension skills as well as an improved ability to recall short stories and to listen and follow directions. Check out the official report here.

When your kids are finally ready for their first day of kindergarten, they’ll be miles ahead of their classmates.

But the crucial advantages don’t stop there!

Did you know there are a ton of swimming scholarships available?

That’s right. If you start your kids in swimming early, then they have a serious chance at knocking out collegiate debt.

Swimming doesn’t just save lives- it saves money in the long run, and it grows the brain!