Man beats drowning fears to help others

Gilbert Navonika
Gilbert Navonika
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A SUPPORT worker who overcame his fear of drowning to learn to swim so he could help a man with learning disabilities has won an award.

Gilbert Navonika showed “tremendous courage” overcoming his fear, which began when he almost drowned when he was 15 years old.

A man who was scared of water after nearly drowning as a child has overcome his fear by learning to swim - so that he can support a man with learning disabilities.' 'Gilbert Navonika, 31, of Leeds is a Support Worker in the city for Dimensions, a national not-for-profit organisation supporting around 3,500 people with learning disabilities and autism.

A man who was scared of water after nearly drowning as a child has overcome his fear by learning to swim - so that he can support a man with learning disabilities.' 'Gilbert Navonika, 31, of Leeds is a Support Worker in the city for Dimensions, a national not-for-profit organisation supporting around 3,500 people with learning disabilities and autism.

Mr Navonika, works for Leeds not-for-profit support provider Dimensions, which held its Inspiring People awards in London on Thursday.

He said: “When I first started working at Dimensions, I was shy and didn’t tell anybody that I could not go near water; I was petrified. Then, I would just make sure I was not on shift when a swimming activity was planned.

“But I felt like I was letting the people I support down, as well as my team members.”

Mr Navonika revealed his fears to his colleagues, who taught him to swim over the last year. He is now able to go swimming with the man he supports.

Mr Navonika added: “The first time I got in the water was a big challenge but I do feel proud of myself.”

“I am pleased and humbled to receive the award; but I feel doing something like this is part of the job for me. People with learning disabilities should be able to live their lives to the full and that means putting their needs and wants first.”

Manager Kirsty Roche, who nominated him for the award, said: “Gilbert has worked really hard to overcome this fear and is now supporting a gentleman to go to the swimming pool because this was an important activity for the person he supports.

“This is a great achievement, Gilbert has shown tremendous courage in overcoming his own fears through his dedication to the person he supports.”=

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