Swimming with sharks part of doctor’s orders
SHARING the water with more than five species of sharks isn’t about to s t o p b r a v e y o u n g s t e r B y r o n Holman from enjoying one of his favourite pastimes.
The seven-year-old is set to come face-to-face with more than 50 sharks during a daring dive at Sea World on the Gold Coast as part of t he Shark Bait Kids program tomorrow.
Young Byron has spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic condition which causes a weak respiratory system and progressive muscle degeneration.
T h e Oono o n b a S t a t e S c h o o l student is easily thrown off balance, restricting his ability to run freely like other kids his age.
He takes part in two hydrotherapy lessons each week providing muscle growth and respiratory benefits.
Byron’s mother Meghan said swimming was a welcomed change from the limitations he faced during day-to-day life.
‘‘ He feels like he can do what all the other children can do when he is in the pool, so it’s pretty special for him to be in the water,’’ she said.
‘‘ His friends are so excited for him so he feels pretty special at the moment.’’
The youngster is set to get up close and personal with four species of stingray, giant shovel-nosed rays, and more than 200 species of reef fish.
The program was designed by Brisbane-based charity MontroseAccess as a fun way of providing s p e e c h t h e r a p y , o c c u p a t i o n a l therapy and physiotherapy for children living with neuromuscular conditions.
Ms Holman said the charity event was one of a kind.
‘‘ There is nothing like seeing the joy in some of the kids’ faces,’’ she said.
‘‘ When they’re in the water they feel free. They feel normal because, in the water, they look and function like everybody else.’’
Byron was one of 12 youngsters to take part in a four-day world-first program teaching children with neuromuscular conditions to dive at Reef HQ in January.
Ms Holman said the program was continuing to produce benefits.
‘‘ Hydrotherapy is such an important part of his life because it helps with his legs and muscles.’’