Making waves in physical fitness.

Valerie Wilson goes over exercises with Cliff Schneider and Fundy YMCA Volunteer Noelle Lucas.
Valerie Wilson goes over exercises with Cliff Schneider and Fundy YMCA Volunteer Noelle Lucas. Photo by Sheila Duggan.
Annapolis West Health Foundation’s support of the Fundy YMCA WaterART Programs ensures fitness rehabilitation stays afloat.
 
Small victories can bring about transformative change. Valerie Wilson, WaterART/Rehabilitation instructor sees it happen almost every day. Funded in part by the Annapolis West Health Foundation, the Fundy YMCA WaterART programs encourage, coach and support participants as they work to improve physical and cardiovascular fitness, build muscle strength and endurance, improve range of motion and balance and manage pain. 
 
Valerie Wilson oversees the Fitness Rehabilitation Program, which works on three major areas:
  • athletic rehabilitation for injured but otherwise healthy people; 
  • medical rehabilitation for de-conditioned people suffering from chronic disease;
  • on-going therapy for the disabled or physically challenged.
For many, it can be long road to recovery and the trajectory is not always straight. Therapeutic programs can run up to 16 weeks or more. A small setback can mean many hours of work to regain what was lost.  
 
“Many of our clients are recovering from stroke, or suffer from neuromuscular conditions like Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s. Others have been in serious accidents. It takes courage for these people just to walk through the door,” says Valerie. “We have some people who are only free of pain when they are in the deep end of the pool.”
 
Improvements are incremental. “We do an initial assessment and then another a month later,” Valerie explains. “We continue with regular assessments. Our clients need to see that they are making progress.”  
 
In fact, Valerie has seen many of her clients make huge improvements. “This is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’ve seen total miracles.”  
 
Cliff Schneider is one of those miracles. A paramedic for 30 years, Cliff was involved in a rescue that resulted in severe injuries. “I came home to the potential of only a wheelchair, without any independence.”  At a friend’s suggestion, Cliff became a regular participant in the WaterART Fitness Rehabilitation Program. 
 
“When we first saw Cliff, he was severely impaired and walking with forearm crutches, says Valerie.  “Now he uses a cane for distance and is able to negotiate level ground in his home.”
 
The positive benefits of the WaterART programs can be far-reaching. Clients who may have been isolated make new friends in a welcoming and supportive environment.  
 
“One of the things that was unexpected, was that participants formed their own support networks,” explains Valerie. “If someone has not been at class in a while one of the group will give them a call, check if they need a ride to class and make sure that everything is alright.”
 
The huge impact made by the Fundy YMCA WaterART programs was the key reason that the Annapolis West Health Foundation chose to fund the initiative. “WaterART fits perfectly with the Foundation’s vision to support and enhance quality health and wellness initiatives in the area we serve,” says AWHF Chair Heather LeFort.  “These programs are changing peoples lives and giving them a huge sense of empowerment.”
 
For more information on Annapolis West Health Foundation – Fundy YMCA partnership visit: https://annapoliswesthealthfoundation.com/partnering-fundy-ymca/ 
 
For more information on Fundy YMCA WaterART Programs visit: https://fundyymca.com/waterart/