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Birthlight special swimmers

Louis Rolfe was a little boy with Cerebral Palsy and now is a young man that has became world champion in Para-cycling

I have just returned from the wonderful city of Moscow tutoring the gentle birthlight swimming method and Water ParentingTM , which included a Special Swimmers CPD with a focus on Cerebral Palsy.  

That one day has made me feel more passionate about birthlight than ever. I feel inspired, a glowing light in my heart. I witnessed the transformation on the faces and in the bodies of not just the children but the parents too, as they learnt to relax and start enjoying their special babies.

As a teacher and tutor of many years, I still get an overwhelming feeling of joy from teaching, especially when I see parents 'Get It’. I love that moment when parents stop thinking and worrying, let go of their expectations and inhibitions and start to enjoy being totally immersed in the journey and fun of it all, letting go and being in the moment together with their child.

This can be one of the most challenging times in one’s job though, how do we as teachers help the parents to unwind and relax and become more involved in the process of water parentingTM.

We can help by playing a supportive role, empowering parents with encouragement and helping them release old fears and preconceptions.

Indicators of fear are: tensions of the body, hunched shoulders, parents rising up onto their toes, tension in the face, fear of splashes, rapid eye blinking when face is close to water and an inability to listen. Nose holding when going under may be an indication on a retained Moro reflex. These are all clues for the teacher that indicate the harbouring of fearful memories of water which prevent the parent relaxing

We can help by focusing on practices that encourage balance, loving communication, breath awareness and social interaction. Allowing time for relaxation and fun group activities can bring even the most shy and fearful parent out of their shell!

When parents become absorbed and communicate lovingly with their little ones, I feel this to be the moment of success. We relax and our mind releases happy hormones which has a  physical effect on the body. As the love flows between parent and child non-verbal communication spirals. “I look into to your eyes and I love you!!” Oxytocin is released (a natural pain killer) which is beneficial for babies and children with cerebral palsy.

When I started my little group in Cambridge all those years ago. I never thought it would have such a transforming effect on family’s lives.

Birthlight has taken me on a magical mystery tour that I am still enjoying every time I dive into healing water. Its the power of love, that keeps me wanting more and more people to understand the difference one makes when you teach from the heart.

The constant feedback we get from families confirming the powerful effect Birthlight has had and is still having… in what can sometimes be a harsh competitive achievement led world of Baby Swimming, gives me strength to carry the birthlight message forward.

Below is a little snippet of feedback from Louis’ mother Lyndsey Rolfe

"When Louis started to grow and the challenges of persuading him to do his daily physio became cause for much argument we knew that we needed to find a way of encouraging him to take part in sport that would enhance his physical ability and also mean that he was engaging in positive exercise and therefore at times completing his physio sessions without him realising that he was doing so !

Your sessions were amazing Amanda, you bought together a very mixed group of children and parents and made such a huge difference to all of our lives, I’m not sure you understand how important those times were to all of us. I will always remain so grateful that you were part of Louis life when he was a young person who needed to find an activity to enjoy, you made swimming fun and he gained so much from that.

We didn’t realise that by taking part in the swim sessions that this would also give him an important social framework where he would meet other young disabled people and make some great friends too, a real bonus!

We saw swimming as the ideal opportunity to do this, as it was a relatively safe and affordable sport for him to take part with and would also mean that he would gain a life skill too. (This was very useful when age 11 he cycled into the river Cam and was able to swim to the bank!)"

Enjoy your own birthlight magical mystery tour :-)

Amanda Gawthrope x