iCan swim camp gives kids with disabilities time in the pool

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 3:18 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Swimming lessons are a summertime tradition for many families.

It’s a way to get outdoors, burn off some energy and learn to love the water

But traditional lessons don’t work for all kids. For kids with disabilities, it can be overwhelming.

This week, those kids are getting some one-on-one lessons at iCan Swim camp.

Five-year-old Matthew Jackson is making a splash this week. Matthew is one of 30 students in the first ever iCan Swim camp in Bismarck, a program specially designed to teach kids with disabilities how to swim. There are just six kids in a session, which allows for one-on-one instruction. That’s crucial when learning to swim, and also in forming friendships.

“Being in the water is really good for kids who can’t move on their own independently outside of the water,” said Matt Poppe, swim program coordinator for Keeping the Promise. “It’s good for physical therapies and stretching out and stuff like that, and then with all the kids that helps a lot with the social element.”

For Poppe, it’s a chance to combine two things he’s passionate about: helping people with disabilities and swimming.

“It’s a marriage of two worlds that I come from,” he explained. “I work with kids with disabilities in my main job and then as a coach for a couple other swim teams.”

This is also part of a bigger vision. Poppe hopes to launch a swim program for kids with disabilities sometime in the next year, which means more pool time for kids like Jackson.

The nonprofit Keeping the Promise helped bring iCan Swim camp to town.

To learn more about their work, and the swim program they hope to launch, visit their website,

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