The Upshur County Recreational Park Pool / My Buckhannon file photo

Upshur County Pool to host weekly sensory-friendly swim events for kids with autism and sensory needs

BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Pool has added a new program this summer to give people with sensory processing issues a chance to enjoy the pool in a way that best meets their needs.

Every Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., the pool will host a sensory-friendly pool party for individuals with sensitivity issues.

Upshur County Parks and Recreation director Jeremiah McCourt said the new program will give many kids a chance to use the pool who otherwise might not be able to.

“This summer, my lifeguards have trained with Tracey Vincent and Carrie Bowers, and every Friday, we’re going to do a sensory-sensitive swim,” McCourt told Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce members at a recent meeting. “Before we open, from about 11:30 to 12:45 on Fridays, the only kids who are going to be in the pool are the kids on the spectrum as sensory-sensitive.”

Sensory-friendly swim sessions are designed to create a more supportive environment for individuals with autism, anxiety or other sensory processing needs. The inclusive setting typically has fewer swimmers and a more calming atmosphere.

“The kids really take to it,” McCourt said. “A lot of them are hesitant in the beginning, but we’ve actually had parents reach out and sign kids up for swim lessons because of this.”

Admission is just $1 per participant.

“One mom said she hadn’t been to the pool since her child was diagnosed because they were just worried about offending other people,” McCourt said. “This program is game-changing for a lot of kids.”

The pool is located at the Upshur County Recreation Park — 308 B-U Drive, Buckhannon — right behind Buckhannon-Upshur High School. For questions, call the pool at 304-472-5310.

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