SIXTEEN inspirational little heroes were honoured at the annual Water Babies Little Heroes awards ceremony in Dublin.
Among them was Sean Rogers from Mayo who was born prematurely last July at 30 weeks gestation.
Sean (seven months) has been attending Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swimming school, at Breaffy House Resort.
Mum Jennifer Dwyer says since starting in November, Sean has come on leaps and bounds as a result of swimming, both physically and developmentally.
Sean spent his first 49 days in hospital between the NICU in Holles Street, Dublin and the Special Care Baby Unit in Castlebar. Since leaving hospital, he attended many different classes, such as massage and yoga, however they didn’t work out as Sean became anxious and overwhelmed in groups of people.
Said mum Jennifer: “I think it was just a case of sensory overload for him. I ended up just not going out with him at all unless we absolutely had to, as he just found it too stressful.”
Jennifer then decided to bring Sean to Water Babies in Breaffy House Hotel and Spa, fully expecting him to react the same way. However, it is literally the only thing he liked doing outside of his own home.
She said: “He amazes me every week with what he is capable of. Sean couldn’t hold his head up in the swim position at the start but is doing great at it now. He has even begun to smile in the pool in the last few weeks, which is a massive milestone for him in such a busy setting.
“Water Babies has been an absolute life saver for us both as we finally have something we can do and bond over together. It also gets me out of the house and meeting other mammies, which I have otherwise not been able to do. Swimming has greatly improved both of our lives so thank you so much for the work that you do and for helping us. We can’t wait for Chapter 2.”
The Water Babies awards uncovered many wonderful stories of how being in water and swimming has helped babies and toddlers with their development, assisting them overcome health issues and improved their lives and the lives of their family.
Despite being challenged by premature birth, serious illness and special needs, many of the little heroes have shown a tremendous amount of strength and bravery considering their young age.
Water offers a greatly enhanced sense of freedom and independence and it is also a great leveller, and can help children have fun within a non-competitive environment. Swimming stimulates all of the senses and each Water Babies lesson offers a range of activities which encourage children to develop their concentration, control and coordination.
Sensory activity introduces new experiences, helps little ones to make sense of their environment, develops their memory, and speeds learning.
Water Babies classes are available across Ireland, including Mayo. To find your nearest class, visit www.waterbabies.ie.