Karen founded AquAbility in 2010. Karen is blessed to be working in her passion helping people with disabilities find health, independence and enjoyment in the healing environment of water. It is her hope that AquAbility will continue to flourish and grow in order to help many more people. In addition to swimming, Karen loves to paddle board, is an ice hockey goalie, reader, and loves to cook.
Missy Russell is an Elementary Education and Early Childhood trained teacher with her Water Safety Instructor certification. She has also trained in deep and shallow water Hydrofit. She enjoys water sports such as white water rafting, snorkeling, scuba diving, hydrofit classes and swimming. She has taken a special interest in working in Special Education classes as a substitute teacher in the Wood River area for the past four years. She is currently working as an assistant teacher in a pre-k classroom, guest teaching at the local school district, and is an instructor at AquAbility. She is particularly interested and trained in helping students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and feels that time, patience, and understanding go a long way. Missy looks forward with enthusiasm to helping participants hone their swimming skills to achieve water safety, fitness and enjoyment. Missy began working with the AquAbility in Ketchum at Zenergy in November 2017. Missy has her AquAbility Therapeutic Aquatics for People with Disabilities Certificate.
Olivia worked as a lifeguard at Boise State Recreation Aquatic Center for three years and while there she watched the AquAbility program improve the lives of their participants. As a Kinesiology student at Boise State University, she needed to choose a Service Learning program and knew immediately with whom to sign up. Olivia has been an instructor of American Red Cross swim lessons since 2012 and feels very comfortable in aquatic environments. In addition to holding her Water Safety Instructor certification, she obtained her Lifeguard Instructor, CPR and First Aid Instructor, and the Wilderness Medicine First Responder certification (NOLS). She has been with AquAbility since January of 2016, and is grateful for the opportunity to change lives of all ages working with AquAbility therapeutic adaptive programs. Olivia holds the AquAbility Therapeutic Aquatics for People with Disabilities Certification.
Kjersten is from Minnesota and graduated from St. Olaf College, then did her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of MN. She started competitively swimming at the age of 8 and swam through college. She has always enjoyed working with youth and helped coach an adaptive swim team in MN prior to moving to Idaho. Kjersten particularly enjoys seeing people make progress in desired skill areas or become more independent and curious in their environment.
Kjersten joined AquAbility to better be able to work with individuals in an aquatic setting to improve their comfort, function, and safety in the water. Additionally, AquAbility has awesome tools, strategies, and mind-sets about aquatic therapy that is both in sync with the field of physical therapy, yet very novel to create a custom experience to meet the needs of each individual. Kjersten earned the AquAbility Therapeutic Aquatics for People with Disabilities Certificate.
Finally, Kjersten believes costumes are always welcome, singing and repeat after me songs are genius, and having fun is always the goal.
Laurie was a competitive swimmer for fifteen years, now she swims as a way to work out. Laurie is the head coach in Cascade as well as teaches swim lessons. Karen approached her to become an AquAbility instructor as well.
Natalie first taught swimming lessons as a teenager and immediately fell in love with it. She was able to teach several students with disabilities and took those experiences with her as she continued teaching swim lessons during college. As a part of her degree in Recreational Management, Natalie created a swim program fro students with disabilities. She has consistently taught swim lessons to students of all ages, shapes, sizes, and skill levels since that time. Natalie started with AquAbility in summer 2019 and absolutely loves being in the water with the participants.
When not in the pool, Natalie can be found chasing her four growing boys, mountain biking, substitute teaching at the elementary school, or creating music with people she loves.
Taylor is a student at Boise State working towards a major in Business and minor in non-profit. She has been coaching swimming for the past 6 years and swam competitively for the past 13 years. She has always had a love for being in water and enjoys sharing her passion with others. Taylor was involved with Special Olympics all through high school and grew up around individuals with disabilities as both her parents are special education teachers. When she was swimming at the pool one day and saw AquAbility, she knew she wanted to be apart. She loves watching the swimmers gain independence, learn new skills, and the smiles on their faces when they’re in the water. Combining her love for being in the water, coaching, and working with individuals with disabilities, she has enjoyed all aspects of AquAbility.
Due to Covid-19 safety concerns for participants and staff, AquAbility programs will not resume before September. Continue to check our website and facebook for updates regarding our plans for resuming programs at all locations.