National Ability Center to build a pool |

National Ability Center to build a pool

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

The National Ability Center (NAC) is ready to take the plunge in a whole new arena.

This year, the NAC will add a pool to itscampus in the Round Valley area. It is something that NAC founder and executive director Meeche White has wanted to do for some time, but the story there is a heartwarming story behind it.

The pool is coming to fruition because of the vision and financial backing of Parkites Rick and Iby Rouse. The Rouses decided now was the time to construct a pool at the NAC after witnessing the difference swimming had made in the life of their young granddaughter. Sarah Barber, who is three, suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and the water allows her to move more freely.

"She loves the water," Rick said. "She’s a fish."

The Rouses first became familiar with the NAC when one of Rick’s good friends mentioned the facility and Sarah began benefiting from its horseback riding and hipatherapy programs. One day when Rick and Iby were walking the NAC grounds, they commented on the lack of a pool and how much their granddaughter loved the water. So, they decided that they wanted to help the NAC add a pool facility.

The therapy/play pool will be called the Sarah Barber Aquatic Center and Rick is excited to see how many disabled people will benefit from the facility. White adds that the pool will also help others with limitations like arthritis. The pool will be kept at a warm 90 degrees, to help keep muscles loose. White says that they plan to use solar power to heat the pool.

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Although the project is still in the design phase, White is excited about all the components that will be in the facility. It will contain many disabled-friendly features that make access easy and the time spent in the water quite therapeutic. There will be a lazy river, a lap area, a play area with water features to climb on and a slide complete with a lift for those who need the extra help. The pool will also have a soft "squishy" bottom to make it easy to walk and stand on. White plans to offer water aerobics and swimming lessons as well as other aquatic programs.

When the NAC began the design process, they took into consideration the pools that were already in existence in the area and attempted to fill a niche that wasn’t already filled. The facility will also have a multi-purpose room for parties and events as well as disabled-accessible locker rooms. The pool will have a zero-clearance entrance for people that might have trouble stepping down or over a barrier to get in the pool. The water will gradually get deeper from there.

"It will be on the cutting edge as far as being able to serve people," White said. "We’ve taken all the needs of the disabled population in its design."

The 8,100 square feet building will be located on the south side of the NAC lodging building. The Easton Foundation has also decided to add archery lanes in the building.

Groundbreaking for the facility will take place sometime in late May or early June and White says the construction of the building should take about six months.