Thank you card, Pegasus Unit.

WAI’s Think Differently project was delivered in 2014, aiming to change attitudes and behaviours of families and service providers to enable people with a learning disability greater access to water-based activities. 

Engaging with families as well as participants, we delivered three water competency pool sessions, one community pool session and one beach education session for each of three groups, from: Sir Keith Park Special School, Southern Cross Satellite Class and Pakuranga College’s Pegasus Unit. All participants were aged 15-20 years.

As part of the project we developed a formal set of water safety skills and learning requirements for participants to be safer in and around the water, supported by a range of resources for both families and service providers: 

  • Guidelines of sale pool practice for families/caregivers and service providers;
  • Aquatic competency checklist (waterproof) for swim schools when delivering aquatic programmes;
  • Aquatic competency achievement checklist teaching guide; and
  • Participation certificate

You can download these resources from Related Files on this page.


The Think Differently project was made possible with funding support from the Making A Difference Fund, Ministry of Social Development.

Pre and post participation surveys and skill assessments highlight some key successes:

    • 62% of participants’ confidence in water increased
    • 14% increase in those who felt comfortable using public pools
    • 37% increase in those able to swim five metres
    • 56% of participants stated that they “now enjoyed swimming…their favourite part of the aquatic programme.”
      At the beginning, 56% expressed a dislike toward swimming and did not participate.

“It was a new experience for most and they had fun while learning new skills, also developing the ability to learn off new teachers/instructors.” (Teacher)

It had been identified that persons with a learning disability experience barriers to water-based activities on the basis that they do not have water safety skills, and because people are fearful about their lack of skills. This in turn, removes the ability to develop skills in situations that could be made safe and supports. Families also experienced barriers to aquatic participation within aquatic facilities and open water environments.