BOISE - A nonprofit in Boise is changing lives through water therapy. Aquability specializes in helping people with special needs.
"It's so much more than swim lessons, it's life lessons that they do in the water," said parent Rebecca Bicandi, whose 6-year-old son, Dane, is autistic.
When Rebecca first brought Dane to Aquability at Boise State, she wasn't sure how it would go. But Dane has thrived in the pool.
"There is such a huge difference," Rebecca said. "When we first started Aquability he was completely mute. Right now he is finally reaching sentences that are seven to eight words."
The therapeutic aquatics program was founded by Karen Morrison in 2010 out of her passion for working with people with special needs.
"We work on physical skills, health skills, cognitive, verbal, following directions," explained Karen. "Learning to swim is a by-product of our program."
Jennifer Childers' daughter, Hope, has been coming to Aquability for almost a year now. Hope was born with spina bifida, which left her without the use of her legs. Now 15-years-old, Aquability was Hope's first experience in a pool.
"She was like 'Mom, I felt free. That was the first time I have ever felt free,'" Jennifer said. "I was in tears of course."
"I just think that's a priceless freedom for her," added Jennifer. "Getting out of the chair, get in the water and do something without any help."
Hope's mom says the water therapists have a gift.
"It's hard to connect, time after time with each child, but they do it tirelessly," said Jennifer.
Rebecca Bicandi agrees.
"Karen seems to intuitively know what Dane needs," she said. "They have provided a safe place where he can get the help that he needs, and he can learn about relationships. It's really been life-changing for all of us."
Karen Morrison is making a difference. She says this is what she is meant to do.
"I just have a passion for them finding a place of comfort and balance in the world and the water is a great place to do that," she said. "It just fills my heart it just makes me so happy."
To learn more about Aquability, click here.