Year-round swimming for Bates Drive Public School students with pool upgrade

Collaborative result: Nick Feros of Feros Group, president of the Bates Drive P&C Shantelle Tagg, principal of Bates Drive Public School, David Toogood, Sutherland mayor Carmelo Pesce, Sutherland Shire Council environmental scientist Bec Williams, trustee at St George Children with Disabilities Fund, Garry Morris, with students Lachlan and Lincoln.
Collaborative result: Nick Feros of Feros Group, president of the Bates Drive P&C Shantelle Tagg, principal of Bates Drive Public School, David Toogood, Sutherland mayor Carmelo Pesce, Sutherland Shire Council environmental scientist Bec Williams, trustee at St George Children with Disabilities Fund, Garry Morris, with students Lachlan and Lincoln.

Students of Bates Drive Public School at Kareela are doing laps of joy following an upgrade to its outdoor swimming area.

It comes thanks to the generous pooling of funds from a Sutherland Shire Council grant, support from a community business, charity organisation and the P&C.

The custom-made pool enclosure and new heating system means all-year-round access to the facility. It can now be used regularly by students with special needs, for exercise rehab programs, and regular sport and recreation activities.

Principal David Toogood says the school had been supporting the costs of running the pool 52 weeks a year. But it was only able to use it for 20 weeks.

"This has been a real community effort and since completing the upgrade, we've seen major benefits both socially and emotionally for the Bates Drive students," he said.

"The pool now allows for additional mobility programs, catering to a wider range of student needs, and we've seen a real boost in students' water safety skills, motor coordination, body awareness, communication, oral motor control, self-regulation skills and their ability to focus on cognitive tasks.

"The buoyancy of the water even provides students with mobility issues a sense of independence and helps with greater range of movement to help strengthen muscles and increase flexibility."

The council contributed $22,800 to the overall upgrade cost of $89,000. Half of that contribution was from a local government NSW Flying-fox grant program.

Community business Feros Group hosted a fundraising event and matched funds raised, donating $25,000. Garry Morris of St George Children with Disabilities Fund donated $5000 and the school's P&C provided a further $36,200.

Sutherland mayor Carmelo Pesce says the project has boosted the quality and duration of the school's swimming program.

"It's been a challenging and expensive task to maintain the pool year-round, due to the surrounding environment," he said.

"Now with the new and accessible enclosure, falling flora and fauna debris won't clog up the filter system and vacuum, and the solar heating will ensure the pool remains at the recommended temperature, guaranteeing access year-round."

The school will now look into options for leasing the pool to private providers, outside of school hours, to achieve further cost efficiencies.

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