Carolyn started volunteering the Y in 1961 with an adaptive swim program to fulfill a nursing school requirement. She started out helping dress the children for their lessons at the old Tacoma YMCA, but quickly decided that she wanted to work with them in the pool. So, she became certified as an instructor.
Carolyn worked with children who had physical and developmental disabilities. Many of the children suffered from birth defects due to thalidomide exposure. She worked with one girl who was deaf and blind who was afraid of getting lost and not knowing where the edge of the pool was. Carolyn helped her to overcome her fear of the water by teaching her to swim while inside a hula hoop, so she could feel where she was at all times.
?[My experience at the Y] taught me to accept people, regardless of any disability,? Carolyn says. After teaching at the Y for 15 years, she embarked on a career working with children on the autism spectrum and indulged her love of mountain climbing.
Then, five years ago, she joined the Lakewood Family YMCA after two knee replacement surgeries. Now, she?s here three days a week, where she can be seen lifting weights and using the cardio machines. She credits the Y with helping her stay healthy. ?I?ve always been active, all my life,? Carolyn says with a smile. ?I?m 73 now and I don?t feel it.?