What is it about water?

Following on from our recent blog focusing on adventure, a few films highlight the benefits of water for people with disability.

'The water is a therapeutic tool,' says Izzy Paskowitz, founder of Surfers Healing, which he started because of his son's autism. Shot in the style of a stunning surfing documentary Pete White's One Perfect Day details a surfing camp run by Surfers Healing for kids with autism and their families.

White packs it all into this five-minute film - hearty vox pops with parents, kids and volunteers, as well as inspiring wave action. It's clear that the surfer volunteers get as much as they give with two of them saying, 'I had no idea what I was getting into, but it changed my life that day' and 'I'm not only helping them, they're helping me, too.'

Mutual benefit is also evident in Wendy Gibbs' gentle film Treading Water. Protagonist Michael gets swimming lessons from a woman he teaches about computers. So far he's learnt how to hold his breath, put his head under water, float, and kick across the pool with his head down, so he's well on the way to achieving his goal of learning to swim. 'Everyone learns to swim - it's just something I thought I really needed to do,' says Michael. His mum Rhonda says that swimming, 'Not only gives him confidence in water - it gives him more confidence in the rest of his life.'

Confidence - that vital, sometimes elusive element required for living our true selves. In Swim Bike Run we see James running triathlons, his mother telling us: 'Once he gets there, he's very sure of himself and confident about what he's going to do.'

'When James started triathlon training he couldn't even run. He had only just learnt how to ride a bike, but he kept going,' his mum says. 'Water is a way for him to process the world. James suffers terribly from sensory overload. Once he's submerged it blocks out all sound and light so that he can actually relax.' Filmmakers Henry Gosper and Cameron Trafford share beautiful footage of James doing just that.

The confidence theme continues in Little Heroes from Rose Bay Secondary College. In their swim program in the open-water pool at glorious Bondi Icebergs, students not only learn to swim and get fit, they also develop other life skills, such as organisation, safety awareness, public transport, working together and a capacity to try new things. These all lead to independence and the sense of freedom that comes from it. One of the instructors sums it up: 'Those who aren't so mobile on the land get a lot more freedom in the water.'

Speaking of freedom, Remy Bernier likes it! The Canadian adventurer cross-country skis, mountaineers and telemarks, but it's whitewater kayaking that he takes to for his most recent documentary Everything is Possible. A stroke made the right side of his body inaccessible so when he gets pummelled by whitewater in this film, it really does take it to the next level.

What is it about water? At very least, well-organised water-based experiences allow a freedom that landlubbers just don't get.