On any given week day, splashes and voices reverberate across the walls of the Bernard and Barbro Osher Indoor Pool at the Oshman Family JCC (OFJCC) in Palo Alto. But once a week, you may hear voices you would not expect. A young man croons “Moon River” softly at the water’s edge, speaking about his father’s recent passing and his love of playing guitar.
Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style someday
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way
Patrick Tweedie, 46, has been using the pool at the OFJCC every week as part of a unique partnership with Abilities United, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit organization serving people with disabilities.
“The health benefits of being in the water for those with disabilities cannot be underestimated,” says Roger Young, Manager of Adult Day Activities and Community Connections at Abilities United. “Many people assume that the indoor pool is for children but because of the therapeutic aspects, it is great for adults, too,” says Young.
The indoor pool at the Oshman Family JCC is heated to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and hosts several interactive water play features.
Founded in 1963, Abilities United offers people of all ages and abilities educational, therapeutic, recreational and vocational experiences. Until three and a half years ago, the organization had maintained a robust aquatics program in their Middlefield pool. After 45 years of repairs and constant upkeep, however, it gave out, and participants were left without easy access to warm-water pools. Recently, the Oshman Family JCC offered its facilities for Abilities United Adult Day Activities participants. OFJCC lifeguards keep watch, too.
“Partnerships with organizations like the OFJCC and the City of Palo Alto make it possible for us to continue to provide the warm-water exercise that participants need,” says Young. “The lifeguard staff here also is fantastic.”
For their part, the OFJCC appreciates the opportunity to welcome diverse aquatics participants of all abilities. “It is so great to watch them swim because they are so happy. They are a wonderful group,” says Todd Milton, Director of Fitness and Wellness at the Oshman Family JCC. “This is a valuable partnership for us because we are grateful to be able to give back to the community.”
Patrick Tweedie enjoys coming to the pool as part of the community partnership. “It’s nice,” he says, adding that it helps him process his feelings for the loss of his father. Meanwhile, other participants in his cohort stretch and splash. Those in wheelchairs utilize muscle groups that do not often get used. The water brings a sense of tranquility and well-being to participants of many backgrounds.
Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after that same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, Moon River, and me