The Diveheart Adaptive training included over twenty hours of confined and open water training.

Chicago-based Diveheart was founded in 2001 by Jim Elliott, with a mission to train and allow people with a wide range of disabilities to explore the underwater world. Along the way, Diveheart has found that scuba diving has not only deeply inspired and opened up a world of possibilities, but also has proven medical benefits, especially to those with chronic pain. By pioneering Scuba Therapy, Diveheart has helped thousands to resuscitate their lives with a “can do” spirit and overcome seemingly impossible life barriers. They work with individuals who have a variety of disabilities, including physical and developmental disabilities, vision and hearing impairments, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more.

Diveheart’s first California Training followed the Scuba Show in Long Beach from June 8-14. The week of training included land clinics where Adaptive Dive Buddy and Instructor candidates learned about the nuance of working with children, adults and veterans with disabilities on land and in the water. The Diveheart Adaptive training included more than 20 hours of confined and open water training, and concluded Sunday the 14th at Catalina Island.

Eric Castillo, Dive Safety Officer for USC   being transferred down some stares  by Tom Hall and Jim Lipow during  Diveheart Land Clinic training.

Eric Castillo, Dive Safety Officer for USC being transferred down some stares by Tom Hall and Jim Lipow during Diveheart Land Clinic training.

The Diveheart Instructor/Buddy Training Course is very unique and includes the best practices that exist in the field of adaptive scuba training for individuals with disabilities. During the course, participants learn about a variety of physical and cognitive disabilities as well as accessibility. They learn Diveheart’s training procedures and certification criteria, and special considerations for in-water training and equipment.
Another component to the training is empathy training. As a scuba instructor, you teach your students to do what you do. If you haven’t experienced what they will experience, you do not have the tools to teach them. Diveheart’s empathy training allows participants to experience what it is like to dive with a disability. During confined water training, participants dive as a paraplegic, with their legs tied together. They wear a blacked-out mask to experience diving blind, and they’re put into typically problematic training scenarios to experience what their students may experience. The training prepares instructors to be flexible when conducting confined/open water training and dive planning

Diveheart provides educational scuba diving programs that are open to any child, adult or veteran with a disability, with the hope of providing both physical and psychological therapeutic value to that person. They’ve discovered that the forgiving, weightless wonder of the water column provides the perfect gravity-free environment for those who might otherwise struggle on land.

Diveheart is a nonprofit organization and driven by the generosity of passionate, hardworking volunteers. They are always looking for supporters, volunteers, and sponsors (you don’t even need to be a diver!). An online volunteer application can be filled out on their website here.

For more information on Diveheart and their programs, please visit their website at www.diveheart.org.