Born with Down syndrome, Connor started adaptive swim lessons when he was three years old with YMCA at Pabst Farms, a United Way-funded program partner in Oconomowoc.
“He was scared, just like any little kid,” said his mom, Brenda, “It took a while for him to get comfortable jumping in and putting his face in the water.”
United Way funds Special Programs at YMCA at Pabst Farms, ensuring everyone, regardless of ability, has access to programming like aquatics.
“The Y gives kids like Connor the opportunity to have new experiences and opportunities to make friends, to belong,” said Brenda. “Having different abilities, Connor doesn’t always get the chance to feel included with other kids.”
“United Way recognizes that inclusive opportunities like those offered by YMCA at Pabst Farms are critical in developing both physical and social skills for children of all abilities,” said Vickie Hay, health portfolio manager at United Way. “Connor’s story is a powerful example of what happens when people with different abilities are given the time, space, and support to thrive.”
Of children who participated in United Way-funded disabilities programs, 97% displayed signs of improvement in motor skills and 94% showed signs of improvement in social skills.
When Connor turned eight, he joined the YMCA’s Special Olympics team and now loves going to practice with his friends. Last year, he even qualified for the State Summer Games competition!
Brenda is excited about Connor’s future. “The Y is such an inclusive environment. In addition to the teams, you see people with different abilities working here,” said Brenda. “It gives me hope.”