Sat | Aug 15, 2020

A quest for therapy and friendship

Published:Tuesday | February 2, 2016 | 2:05 PMPaul H. Williams
PHOTO BY PAUL H. WILLIAMS People chilling out after their morning aqua aerobics at Quest Aqua Aerobics and Friends at Discovery Bay, St Ann, recently.


About 10 years ago, Joyce White began a quest to establish a swimming programme for children in association with Swim Jamaica at the old Members Club at Fortland Road, Discovery Bay, St Ann. It came about because of the need to find somewhere to teach children to swim, White told Rural Xpress.

The original swim club, dating back to the 1950s, had become dormant for quite a while. The property at Fortlands Road was virtually abandoned, and the club house thereon had become derelict. White said that she spent nearly five months removing the garbage that had piled up on the beachfront lot.

The programme has since evolved into one in which people participate for rehabilitative and therapeutic purposes and is appropriately called Quest Aqua Aerobics and Friends. The main focus is to offer water rehabilitation for elderly people who have a variety of ailments. Wheelchair-bound people, too, are welcome. It is about therapy first, and then leisure after, White said.

Twice a week, Monday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., and Thursday, 11 a.m. to noon, the aqua aerobics are on, and some people have been travelling from as far as Manchester, St Mary, and St Catherine to participate. To this, White said that she is providing services that hospitals do not, and that people have come to respect what she's doing. "There is nowhere in Jamaica they can get this type of service," White declared.

Apart from the rehabilitative and therapy services, it offers training for life guard certification, basic swim coach training, learn-to-swim classes, after-school lessons, first-aid and CPR classes, water-confidence strategies, etc. Importantly, White said, the programmes provide training for people who will find work in the tourist industry.

It is also a place where friendships are forged and strengthened, and on the last Thursday of every month, members share their home-cooked meals. Many of them are in their 60s and 70s and look forward to the weekly sessions not just for the exercises, but for the opportunity to mix and mingle.

Albert Hewitt, who lives in Runaway Bay, St Ann, has been attending since 2009, with his wife, from time to time. He said that the programme has helped him in many ways. "It is a great place. we get to know each other better; we go on trips together. For some people, this is their life ... It's real therapy, not just the water, but the people you meet," Hewitt said.