At 3st 9lb, JJ's too heavy to swim!
SHE can't walk, talk, or sit, but when little JJ Anslow feels the warm waters of her school swimming pool it frees her body.But now the highlight of the 11-year-old disabled girl's week has been cruelly snatched away from her – because government rules say she is too heavy to lift into the pool.
By Richard Cornwell
SHE can't walk, talk, or sit, but when little JJ Anslow feels the warm waters of her school swimming pool it frees her body.
But now the highlight of the 11-year-old disabled girl's week has been cruelly snatched away from her – because government rules say she is too heavy to lift into the pool.
JJ and her family have been told she is about 2 lbs – the weight of a bag of sugar – too heavy for school staff to lift, even though she weighs a mere 3st 9lb.
"JJ cannot speak so she cannot say, 'It's not fair', so I am saying it for her," said her mum, Pat Anslow.
"Last week she could swim and then suddenly because of some rules dating back to 1992 she is now not allowed to swim because she is too heavy.
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"Swimming was her main enjoyment in life and she really looked forward to it because it gave her a freedom and an independence."
JJ – her full name is Jahanara-Joy – suffers from a twisted back and chromosome problems.
She has to spend most of the day in a body brace and confined to a wheelchair.
She was adopted by Pat and Michael Anslow of Tomline Road, Felixstowe, who added the name Joy to her name because of the joy she brings to the family, and attends Heathside School for children with special needs in Ipswich.
"JJ cannot swim, she just likes to float in the warm water and feel it around her – it's something she really loves," said Mrs Anslow.
"We have spoken to the school and we understand that it has to enforce the rules, but it is these regulations which are the real difficulty.
"There would be no problem if the school had a hoist – like they do at Belstead School, where JJ will go in September – but it doesn't and the only way profoundly disabled children can be put into the school is by staff lifting them."
Mrs and Mrs Anslow, who have three grown up children, said they would be willing to give a donation to kick start an appeal for a hoist.
Heathside head teacher Odran Doran said the school had no option but to abide by the rules contained in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.
These state that two staff of average height and weight should not lift a person of more than 22.2kg (3st 7lb) and JJ's weight was now 23.1kg.
He said a number of the school's older pupils who were unable to support themselves or walk up and down steps were affected.
The school was now looking at its budget and the possibility of some fundraising and was keep to install a mechanical hoist, which would cost around £4,000.
"It is disappointing for the older children who are unable to swim and a hoist would be of benefit to many children in the years ahead," he said.
"The swimming pool is kept at a temperature higher than an ordinary pool and is an environment in which they can relax, can exercise and have therapy and independence, and freedom to move, supported by the water."