H2O Xtream introduces sensory sessions for families with extra needs

Published on 03 May 2022

Children going down a slide at the pool

Upper Hutt City Council's H2O Xtream Aquatic Centre will begin sensory sessions for young people with extra and special needs and their families, so they can enjoy water play in an environment better suited to their needs.

Run in partnership with Āhuru Mōwai Trust, the sessions begin on 6 May and will run every Friday between 7.00pm – 9:00pm for 10 weeks.

Director of Upper Hutt City Council’s Community Services, Mike Ryan, says “we ran a similar session at Maidstone Max before it reopened last year, and it received an overwhelmingly positive response.”

“We have a number of young people in our community that will benefit from sessions like these, and we’re thrilled to partner with Āhuru Mōwai Trust to make it happen” he says.

Āhuru Mōwai trustee, Paul Latham, says it is a fantastic opportunity for families who have never had the confidence to try going to a public swimming pool to give it a go, or for those who have stopped going, to get back into it.

"The 10-week trial will give these families an opportunity to make going to the pool part of their routine, while helping them gain confidence in taking their families there more regularly." 

The aquatic centre will remain open to members of the public during this time, but customers will be asked to respect the sensory environment. Lights will be dimmed, the waves will be switched off, and noise will be kept to a minimum.

“We are one of a small handful of councils offering these kinds of sessions. The 10-week trial will give us an opportunity to collect feedback from pool users to see how it’s gone, and what worked well” Ryan says.

Upper Hutt City Council has a specific disability rate for public pool entry and allows a carer in the pool at no extra cost. It also holds a sensory session on Thursdays between 9.00 am – 10.00 am.

“It will be wonderful to see an evening session trialled. Providing a safe and accepting environment for families who have young people with special and extra needs is what Āhuru Mōwai Trust is all about,” Latham says.

Āhuru Mōwai Trust will subsidise the Family Rate, taking the cost from $15 to $10 (rates supplied below) and Upper Hutt City Council will include free slide passes for these sessions.

To find out more, go to h2oxtream.com