Pool Re-opening Makes Big Splash

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Pool Re-opening Makes Big Splash

Warm water exercise and recreation program resumes thanks to grants from the Farmer Family Foundation, the Sutphin Family Foundation, and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation…at St. Joseph Home (SJH) we’re celebrating the re-opening of our warm water pool area just in time for annual summer camp activities.

Programming Director Jeni Rolfes said, “We are so excited to begin swimming again—the residents have really missed it.  Not only is it a chance to have fun, our warm water pool helps them therapeutically – to relax and have some freedom of mobility in the water.  We will be swimming during summer camp, in the evenings for recreation, as well as for therapy sessions.”

SJH has had a warm water pool since 1992, providing exercise and recreation for residents and Respite Center guests—even including those who depend on ventilators and those with seizure disorders, which is extremely rare. Unfortunately, in 2019 deterioration and damage to the lining of the 30-year-old facility required SJH to close the pool, and COVID halted repair plans; it’s been closed for three years.

VP of Advancement, Jordan Huizenga, said, “Now, thanks to generous grants from the Farmer Family Foundation, the Sutphin Family Foundation, and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, over the last six months not only has the pool been repaired, work has been done to renovate and improve the area, making it more energy efficient and comfortable.” 

The restoration project, which totaled $122,000, also included a new de-humidifier to properly manage moisture and condensation throughout the area. New lights, paint and decor make the area bright and cheerful; renovated changing areas ensure privacy and convenience. And the windows were replaced with the latest, energy-efficient models to further aid in maintaining proper temperatures and humidity.

It is thanks to the generosity of these Foundations, and other Foundations and donors, that SJH can ensure that their residents have access to every type of care, therapy, and activity that could benefit them not only medically, but also in terms of their overall well-being and quality of life.

Moving in warm water is a physical, psychological, and social aid for those who have conditions that effect mobility. For example, spastic paralysis is abnormal muscle tension which leads to a cascade of joint contracture, misalignment, deformity, and pain. All SJH residents have this, as do more than 75% of Community Home residents and Adult Day Program participants.

Being in water provides a different sensory experience, as well as a different social experience. Individuals who use a wheelchair have freedom of movement in the pool and have different types of interactions with staff, volunteers and family members. While buoyant and comfortable in the water a person can be held in a supportive, hug-like embrace, get a different perspective of eye contact and just enjoy the different feelings.

Thanks to the buoyancy of the water, while in the pool, people who are usually unable to do so may be able to extend and move their limbs, stand, walk, and swim. One Respite Center guest has referred to his time in the pool as ‘visiting the spa.’ While unable to walk on his own, he can swim on his own and enjoys independence in the pool.

Dominique Weaver, Program Services Manager for the youngest residents says, “Most kids look forward to summer because of swimming with their family and friends and each other.  Our residents are no different, and the opening of our pool couldn’t come at a better time. Some of our residents have never been inside of a pool.  Swimming is just fun and we are so happy to begin!”

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