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The-girl-smiles-swimming-under-water-in-the-poolThe dream began in 1975 when ShowMe Aquatics & Fitness co-founders Sue Schaeffer and Dr. Bess Maxwell realized the need and envisioned a barrier-free facility that could truly allow people who have disabilities to access warm-water and movement-directed exercise programs offering therapeutic benefit to improve the overall quality of life.

It all started with The Schaeffer Family’s energetic support of programs and services for children and adults with disabilities. Sue Schaeffer realized at a young age that her sister, Nan, and brother, Jim, both born with cerebral palsy, would not have her same opportunities in life. Our community is full of barriers for people like Nan and Jim. We design buildings, often by accident, that limit mobility for hundreds of thousands of people. Sue Schaeffer began working with Dr. Bess Maxwell who created a progressive program known as Aqua Ability that provided warm water-based exercise opportunities with therapeutic benefit for Nan and Jim. It wasn’t long before many other individuals with disabilities began seeking out the program.

In 1999, Showme Aquatics and Fitness was established as a non-profit organization with a clear mission and vision:

  • Mission: To provide health, fitness and quality of life in an environment that is as accommodating, accessible and barrier-free as possible.
  • Vision: To create a warm water aquatic, fitness and therapeutic center that maximizes leading innovations in programming, architecture, and technologies to provide a barrier-free environment allowing anyone to improve their quality of life through physical activity. Through our influence and by our example, other programs and facilities will choose to provide barrier-free opportunities for physical activity so people of all abilities can enjoy movement.

ShowMe Aquatics & Fitness began providing water based therapy and exercise programs at several facilities throughout the region. Even now, ShowMe’s programs are offered through partnering with existing organizations whose facilities have been adapted to eliminate some barriers. Yet pools are still too cold, locker rooms are inappropriately built, doors are heavy and doorways are too narrow. This led to a strong desire to spear-head efforts in finding architectural design features that would eliminate barriers to movement. Despite the remaining barriers in these adapted facilities, ShowMe has seen a tremendous programmatic growth of 546% since its inception – a clear indication that the need for freedom of movement is great.

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