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Woman donates afternoons to teach special needs children to swim


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PLEASANT GROVE — Sheila Morrison's Monday afternoons are dedicated to teaching swim lessons to children with special needs.

Morrison has been teaching swimming lessons for 42 years. She opened her pool in 2005, and one year later her son needed service hours for a Boy Scout project. Together, they began teaching children with special needs. What started out as an 8-hour project turned into years.

"It's probably the best part of me week," Morrison said. "It's the last thing on a Monday and I'm tired, but no matter how tired I am, this is a program I really want to get in and do."

Bo Cummins, a 10-year-old with autism, did not want to get in and swim when he started lessons three years ago. Now, it's tough to get him out of the water.

Then there's Gabriel Stevenson, who was born with brain damage and has cerebral palsy.

"He's really relaxed in the water, so it helps his limbs out and helps give him some freedom," said Nanette Stevenson, Gabriel's mother. "He really enjoys it."

Morrison has always given the lessons free of charge. Every swimmer gets a personal volunteer and the program had just one class a year ago. Now there are three different classes.

"To reach out to these kids and say, ‘No, you have enough going on. I'm not going to expect payment.' That's just amazing," said Jeannine Thomas, a mother of another swimmer.

Morrison expects the classes to keep growing, and even after she retires she said she still plans to do the program.

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Kathy Aiken

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