The U.S. state of Kansas is ready to prevent welfare recipients from going to swimming pools and the movies. Whilst I agree there has to be some incentives to people getting back to work, there are a number of reasons why people find themselves on benefits and because of this, I don’t think there should be a blanket ban on activities that are deemed a luxury. For example, if you have lost your job due to circumstances outside of your control, you should still have the opportunity to have some pleasure in life otherwise life could be pretty depressing without anything to look forward to. However, if you are a long term benefit claimant and haven’t made any attempt to become financially independent, then restrictions should be made, as after all, the money should be utilised elsewhere.
USE SWIMMING AS AN INCENTIVE
I don’t think Kansas state have got it right on swimming though, in fact I think they have got it horribly wrong. Swimming should be used as an incentive to be eligible for welfare. Controversial I know, but swimming has so many life benefits that I firmly believe could help people on benefits whether it be long term or short term. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying Kansas should send everyone off to a waterpark to ride down flumes (even though just having fun in water is a proven way of getting non swimmers to eventually be swimmers), but people should participate in regular swimming sessions with the goal of moving onto lane swimming or aqua aerobics.
So what are the health benefits of swimming on a regular basis? Swimming is the perfect all body workout. It is widely regarded as the best form of exercise as anyone can take part, it works all parts of the body and it is non weight bearing due to buoyancy. It doesn’t matter how old you are or whether you have a disability, swimming can be adapted to suit your ability. Lots of people find being in water calming, so a regular swim programme could potentially help people who are depressed about being out of work and give them something to strive and focus for and hopefully, a more positive outlook on life. The only downside to swimming is probably the limited amount of clothing that is usually required, but this can be overcome for the body conscious by wearing t-shirt and shorts (swimming teachers do!) until they feel more comfortable with their bodies. We can also put safety benefits here too. If claimants cannot swim, they could use the time to learn to swim, thus making them water safe, water confident and water aware and reducing the drowning statistics in the process.
USE SWIMMING TO REDUCE HEALTH COSTS
Even though it would cost Kansas state to implement a swimming programme for it’s welfare claimants, the benefits would outweigh this hugely. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (www.kff.org), 71.2 % of Kansas males and 59.2 % of Kansas females are overweight or obese, a regular swim programme would help lower these statistics and in turn put less pressure on health services and increase quality of life. A compulsory supervised (so the claimants can provide proof that they are attending the swim programme) programme of swimming or aqua aerobics three times a week would bring structure, purpose and the opportunity to form support networks, which should aid to getting back into the jobs market.