November 15, 2018
Charity / Organisation associated with Hero
Octopus Swimming Club
Period Hero has been volunteering for
36 years of volunteering
Dedication of Volunteer
Mary Arrigan-Langan set up Octopus Swimming Club in 1981 for people with physical disabilities. This club is no ordinary swimming club. It operates using the Halliwick concept, which, basically, allows people with disabilities be it spinal cord, amputee, head injury, stroke, spina-bifida, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, visual impairment, among others to become water free.
Mary is truly dedicated. She has been involved for 36 years providing weekly swim sessions hardly missing a session in all that time. Mary is also dedicated to spreading the Halliwick concept that others around Ireland can have the same benefit. Mary organises and supports training for other volunteers.
Impact made by volunteer
Mary with her work through Octopus Swimming Club has honestly transformed people's lives. The club has over forty members ranging in age from 8 to 74 and ever single club member get physical and emotional benefits from swimming and being part of a club that is really social. As described above, people in the club have a range of disabilities including spinal cord, amputee, head injury, stroke, spina-bifida, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, visual impairment, among others. Mary focuses on the ability of everyone and really gets an understanding of the person. Many members are non verbal, however Mary through her eye contact, can connect in a very special way. Mary is also great at pushing the boundaries and getting people to progress and be ambitious. A great example is of one club member who had a stroke 3 years ago who recently went to Poland to represent Ireland at the Halliwick Games. This person was so delighted and Mary was so proud and went to support with the Irish flag. I could give you the number of every single person in the club and every single person would describe the positive impact, both physically and physiologically, that the voluntary work that Mary does and being part of the club has on them.
Creativity / Initiative / Passion showed by volunteer
Mary is so, so passionate about sharing her love and experience of the water with people with physical disabilities. It is not only her technical expertise, but her manner and connection with people that has to be witnessed to be truly understood. Just to attempt to give you an insight on this passion a quote from an interview Mary gave - If somebody is stuck in a wheelchair all day, it is great to see their reaction when you put them in water and see their body move and be free! When they start, they won’t be able to do an awful lot but when you teach them to be more balanced in the water and have good breathe control, they become relaxed. And when somebody is completely relaxed, they can float and eventually they can move and swim. I absolutely love that'.