St. Vincent's Special Needs Services celebrated the opening of its new therapeutic pool with a special ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 19. Aquatic therapy services will be offered from the Feroleto Children's Development Center in Trumbull.

“This new state-of-the-art pool will enable us to significantly enhance our current therapies to meet the individual needs of the children and adults in our care,” said Raymond G. Baldwin, Jr., President/CEO.

Aquatic therapy uses the principle of buoyancy, which makes exercise easier for individuals with disabilities so they can move in a way, according to the center.

“Our therapists can’t wait to get started,” says Patty Hornak, Administrator of Rehabilitation Services, “Aquatic therapy provides input to the whole body and will help us teach new skills in water that will translate to land to improve balance, strength, head control, and even breathing to encourage better communication.”

The aquatic therapy pool features an underwater treadmill, resistance jets, and a sub-floor with holes that allow water to seep through from underneath. The subfloor can be raised or lowered to the desired depth needed for each individual's therapy. The subfloor even allows for individuals to be rolled into the water in a wheelchair, then glided off of the chair once it is submerged in the water.

Mr. Baldwin thanked the many individuals and businesses that helped make this dream a reality.

“We started fund-raising three years ago and got an amazing jump start with the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival which raised about a third of the cost,” said Baldwin. Other significant contributors include Mrs. Eleanor Feroleto, Mrs. Elizabeth Pfriem, Aquarion Water Company, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Strauss, and the William T. Morris Foundation.

“We couldn't have done this without their generosity,” Baldwin said. “We are thrilled to be the only facility in the State of Connecticut with a pool like this. It’s going to have a significant impact on a lot of people.”

St. Vincent's Special Needs Services will also have the option of making this pool available to outside groups such as physical therapists and orthopedic groups for their own rehab programs, to help widen the scope of those served.