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Splash Pals leaders empower children with disabilities

Brianna Miranda and Bryan Clampitt are creating a safe space for children with disabilities through Splash Pals, an aquatic recreation program that stimulates them through unstructured play. In turn, they are gaining relevant experience for a future career in the health field.

USF students Brianna Miranda and Bryan Clampitt, come from two different majors. Their common ground is their goal of working in the health field. As president and vice president of Splash Pals, — an adapted aquatics and therapeutic swimming program for children with disabilities — they have shared in the fulfillment that comes from forming meaningful relationships with children who have disabilities.

Miranda is a health sciences major and the president of the organization. When she completes her undergraduate studies at USF, she plans to enroll in a doctor of physical therapy program, where she said will use many of the skills she gained at Splash Pals.

Clampitt, Splash Pals’ vice president, is in his junior year of his biomedical engineering track. His major gives him the option to work in many different fields, but he has taken a specific interest in the health sector.

“Working with and understanding those with disabilities and their needs is a large undertaking. Many of those needs can be met with the skills and material taught to biomedical engineers,” said Clampitt.

Both Clampitt and Miranda seem inspired by the work that they do and sought out a position at Splash Pals as a way of enriching their undergraduate experiences. They are ardent believers in the power of unstructured play for individuals with cognitive and/or neurological disabilities.

Once the supervisors arrive, Splash Pals welcome both new and returning children to the session. Children are paired with volunteers who spend an hour playing with them and socializing. They aim to create a safe space where they can interact with the children on a personal level.

Once the session is over, the children go home and the students record any behavioral problems the children may have had so they can better understand the actions of each child and adapt later sessions as needed.

The kids get to play with dive rings, squirt toys, and pool noodles in a safe environment.

“They have formed meaningful relationships with the volunteers and look forward to our pool sessions,” said Clampitt.

Both Miranda and Clampitt have developed a stronger understanding of people with disabilities. It’s their work at Splash Pals that reinforce their goals of working in health fields.

“It makes me extremely happy and provides a great sense of fulfillment to know I get to impact so many children’s lives positively on such a regular basis,” said Miranda.

They encourage other students to get involved by reaching out through BullSync or visiting the “Prospective Student Members” section of their website.

The organization relies on sponsorships and donations to keep the program running. All of the money that they receive goes back into the organization to pay for lifeguards, equipment, pool rentals, and more.

Its sole purpose is to ensure that children with disabilities have a safe playing environment that encourages individual expression.

“[Splash Pals] motivates me even more to work hard and pursue my goals so I can have a career where I get to do things like this everyday,” said Miranda.