TWO Steyning children have set themselves a year-long challenge to help disabled youngsters learn how to swim.
Tom Welstead, seven, and his sister Grace, five, are attempting to walk, run, cycle, scoot or swim 2,014km by the end of 2014.
The pair, who both go to Upper Beeding Primary School, are supported in their challenge by parents Mike and Lindsey Welstead, of Coombe Road.
Mrs Welstead said: “This is the straight line distance between Brighton and Casablanca.
“We both work, so it has been a big commitment to regularly average 50km each week, come rain or shine.
“The children have enjoyed long walks after school and at weekends, cycling along the Downs Link to Shoreham, swimming at least twice a week, and taking part in a scootathlon at Dorney Lake.”
They are raising money for Level Water, which supports physically disabled children aged four to 11 and provides them with up to 50 one-to-one swimming lessons – usually enough to enable them to join mainstream classes or competitive clubs.
Both Tom and Grace enjoy swimming and the money they raise will go towards opening a new site in Haywards Heath or Burgess Hill, making swimming accessible to disabled children in West Sussex.
Tom said: “I like going out on my bike and going swimming, and it would be nice if all children could go swimming.”
Grace added: “I really like going swimming.”
They wanted to include swimming in their challenge, but expanded it to take in other activities as well
Mrs Welstead explained: “We chose a challenge that we could do as a family, improving our fitness and giving us quality time together but, more importantly, it has taught Tom and Grace about fundraising and disability.
“We are really proud of how well they are doing and how committed they have been to helping other children get started in a sport they both love.”
So far, they have completed almost 1,400km and are on target to finish in the autumn.
Ian Thwaites, founder of Level Water, explained the value of swimming through the story of Daisy, who has cerebral palsy.
“She went to the Paralympics in 2012 and watched her hero win gold in the swimming.
“She wants to do the same, but couldn’t successfully join in with her school or local pool lessons.
“She is now physically independent in the water and has the same opportunities as any other child. She can swim with her friends and take the sport as far as she likes.”
Mrs Welstead said the free lessons provided by Level Water opened the door to a lifetime of sport.
Visit levelwater.org for more information on the charity. To make a donation, visit the website justgiving.com/teamwelstead