Deal struck to keep east end high school pool open
Swim facility to serve high needs students plus community
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Feb. 9 for Town Crier newspaper.)
Monarch Park CI students Daniel Costa and Ravi Mahara were all smiles when talking about how their school pool has been saved from being drained.
This pool was on the Toronto District School Board’s chopping block unless the school and larger community rallied to raise permit revenues to keep it open.
Costa, Mahara and 36 fellow students with physical and intellectual disabilities or special needs were unable to make use of their school pool for several months while the community raised money.
This meant they travelled by bus to Variety Village in Scarborough for swim classes in a pool that could meet their requirements.
Now they are swimming on their home turf in the 81-degree Monarch pool that has served up an Special Needs Aquatic program for a dozen years now.
“It’s good to have it back,” said Mahara sitting in his wheelchair from the pool’s deck.
Costa said, “I just got surgery. So it helps my legs.”
He says his favourite part of swimming is relaxing your body and playing in the water.
The pool’s warm waters help with mobility and physiotherapy needs and the facility has a manual lift to assist swimmers into the water, wheelchair accessible washrooms with hydraulic change tables and automatic door openers.
Another 30 special needs students from W.J McCordic school were using the pool as well and are back in it again. But they are not the only swimmers here.
In fact, the pool is well and that will only increase as groups look to permit the facility more, said Monarch teacher Jay Arrington.
“It’s full all day at lunch, after school and with the community in the evening,” he said.
Volunteer Sharon Gomes has been instrumental in getting the word out about this facility at the school her daughter attends.
She talks excitedly about a fundraiser that aims to bring in at least $15,000 to help operate the pool.
Monarch Park student Anthony Kita has three design ideas for a mural beside the pool and anyone who donates over $25 will get a tax receipt and their name painted or put on a plaque as recognition for their contribution. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Starting Feb. 12 and for several Friday evenings to come, one family has permitted the pool for swim nights and anyone can come and pay a fee to splash around.
There will be a spring swim meet in April with 100 people from several clubs permitting the pool and on it goes. It’s all taken a lot of time and hard work to organize.
“It was a very emotional discussion because of the high needs students (using the pool),” explains Monarch principal Rob MacKinnon.
“For the whole community it’s an important resource. Now the community knows the pool is here and are excited.”