about SNAP...

The Special Needs Aquatic Program is a fun and beneficial program for children with a variety of special abilities and needs. Founded in 1991 by physical therapist Dori Maxon in the San Francisco Bay Area, SNAP strives to help meet the need for alternative physical therapy and recreational services for children. 

In the Fall of 2018, Jillian and a team of trained volunteers successfully facilitated a 6-week Pilot Program in Sacramento for children ages 1-4 years at Little Whale Swim School. We hope to bring more programming to Sacramento families of all ages after Jillian returns from maternity leave at the end of 2019/beginning of 2020.

Programs are tailored to address the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial needs of each participant.

We stress self-confidence and the joy of movement and fitness in a safe, non-competitive, success oriented atmosphere. In 2002, SNAP became a program under the auspices of United Cerebral Palsy of the Golden Gate UCPGG.org, a non-for-profit 501 C-3 organization, so your donations to SNAP are tax deductible. (Tax ID 94-1207706) After volunteering with SNAP in 2013-2014, Jillian began brainstorming ways to bring the program to our community here in Sacramento. When Little Whale Swim School opened it's doors in the summer of 2017, we knew we had a golden opportunity to align forces.   

At SNAP we believe that all children are swimmers.

We believe that each child is unique and can feel pride and joy when given the opportunity. Using the gifts of the water, we help create opportunities for children to learn, accept them as they are, and give them the attention, energy, and encouragement they need to succeed.

The water is the great equalizer. It offers so many benefits including:

  • the chance to move in a gravity reduced environment

  • help with balance, coordination, strength, cardiovascular fitness, attention to task, language, and social skills.

  • Many of the children in SNAP use the water as their primary source of physical activity and have shown positive changes in independence as they learn and/or practice how to walk, talk, reach, roll, jump, make friends, and swim.

  • play

  • talk

  • and enjoy being a child

Children with special needs are given the chance to participate in a typical childhood activity all with the support of trained and caring volunteers. SNAP is also a great social outlet for the children and all the staff that participate.

Our volunteers have positive interactions with our swimmers and have experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime. This is how our program can help create a more inclusive, accepting, and enriched community. SNAP truly is Water Magic!

Fall 2018 pilot program info FOR FAMILIES

Who: Children ages 1-4 years old and their parents/guardians.

What: SNAP is a group setting class wherein children, their parents/guardians, and trained volunteers get in the water each week to create opportunities for water orientation, exercise, and fun in a therapeutic and supportive environment. Please note: this is not individual therapy. The pilot series will be capped at 6 children. Subsequent classes, however may accommodate larger class sizes. The pilot will be organized and led by Jillian Van Ness, CMT, pediatric and aquatic massage therapist, along with a talented group of volunteers. Please note: we’ve met maximum enrollment but are still collecting applications for the pilot series “wait list” and subsequent sessions. We’d love to have you submit an application below!

When: Saturdays @ 2:30pm-3:30pm

            October 13th---November 17th (no class on October 27th)

Where: Indoor, heated pool near Arden-Arcade

             Little Whale Swim School: 4106 El Camino Ave, Sacramento, CA 95821


Cost: $100 for the five class series ($20/class)

SNAP strives to provide affordable, low cost services to all swimmers and their families. Access to SNAP will not be denied due to lack of swimmer funds. If you have special financial circumstances, or if you are requesting a need-based SNAP scholarship, please request a scholarship application at the bottom of this form and/or speak with our director.

How: To apply, please fill out the form by clicking the button below or contact Jillian directly for a tangible form. Please note, the online form is not HIPPA compliant. 


We'd love to have you join us for the pilot and/or a future series! Click the button below to apply or contact Jillian (530) 426-2278.

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