Diveheart Texas: Adaptive program helps people with disabilities learn to scuba dive

Adaptive program helps people with disabilities learn to scuba dive

by Teresa Woodard, WFAA (ABC TV-8), Fort Worth, Texas

“You don’t know that you can’t do it until you try it and you find out that you can,” said a paralyzed veteran learning to dive again thanks to a new adaptive diving program in North Texas.

FORT WORTH, Texas – There was a steady downpour for several hours straight, but standing poolside at the Longhorn Activity Center in Fort Worth, it was clear — raindrops didn’t matter.

Neither did wheelchairs or different ways of thinking.

Whatever was happening above the surface was forgotten below it, because the underwater world is the great equalizer.

“You’re not attached to a chair,” said 58-year-old Laura Jeanne, a diver who is paralyzed from the chest down. “You can move without having wheels on your butt.”

The water is calming, welcoming and non-judgmental. And once Jeanne enters the place where opportunity replaces obstacles, she doesn’t dwell on the horseback riding accident she had nine years ago that changed her life forever.

Fellow diver Jacob Redford, 17, doesn’t dwell on the cognitive disorder that makes him different from his friends. “It feels like I’m in an environment that’s peaceful and I know what I can do,” Jacob said.

He was born with agenesis of the corpus callosum, a birth defect that left the middle section of his brain undeveloped. “So long as the person with a disability has the cognitive ability to understand never hold your breath, they don’t have a seizure disorder, and the doctor signs off on them, then we can take them under water,” said Dale Davis, a scuba instructor with Diveheart.

Diveheart is a worldwide non-profit. Davis and Kari-Ann Melendez expanded it to North Texas in 2018. The two navy veterans and former air traffic controllers love to dive and saw a need for adaptive diving options in the region.

Davis said potential divers are often surprised to learn adaptive diving exists. “I had one young man, 15 years old, who looked at his chair and looked at me like I was crazy,” he said.

Kari-Ann said, “Now they can feel confidence and have the self-esteem to get out there and try things that they didn’t know they could do, and I bet you they can do a great job at.”

Skilled divers accompany each new diver in the water, where Laura feels more like her old self – the one who, in her early 20s, broke down gender barriers as one of the first female Blackhawk pilots in the U.S. Army — the one who flew in Desert Storm.

The one who assumed her diving days were behind her, but through Diveheart has discovered that diving isn’t a part of who she used to be. It’s who she can be. “You don’t know that you can’t do it until you try it and you find out that you can,” Laura said. “Never say never. Life isn’t over. It’s just different.”

Becoming fearless inside the water and out.

Read original article on WFAA website.

Sarawak, Malaysia: Pengalaman menyelam skuba oleh pesakit patah tulang belakang (video)

Sarawak, Malaysia: Pengalaman menyelam skuba oleh pesakit patah tulang belakang (video)

Diveheart Malaysia

KUCHING 26 Ogos – Seorang belia yang mengalami patah tulang belakang sejak dua tahun lalu kelihatan gembira setelah menyertai sesi percubaan menyelam skuba sebagai hidroterapi di sini sebentar tadi.

Freddick yang difahamkan menjadi individu pertama bukan hanya di Sarawak malah Sabah, Brunei dan Kalimantan, Indonesia diperkenalkan dengan menyelam skuba khusus bagi orang kurang upaya (OKU) yang dianjurkan pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO), Diveheart yang ditaja Premier Marine & Scuba Centre.

Menurut Freddick Jilam, 26, dia berasa sedikit gementar ketika mahu mula memasuki kolam renang namun dengan tunjuk ajar diberikan mereka terlatih ianya berjalan lancar.

“Ketika di dalam air, pergerakan saya lebih ringan tidak berasa kaki berat.

“Saya berharap kalau dapat dan berpeluang mahu teruskan sesi skuba seperti ini lagi,” katanya ketika ditemui Utusan Malaysia selepas sesi percubaan menyelam skuba itu di sini hari ini.

Freddick sebelum ini difahamkan mengalami kemurungan dengan keadaannya yang mana hanya dapat berjalan perlahan sekitar 10 minit maksimum dan selebihnya menggunakan kerusi roda.

Sementara itu, pemilik Premier Marine & Scuba Centre merangkap Program Koordinator Diveheart Malaysia Timur, Ernest C. Teo berkata, pihaknya membawa dan memperkenalkan program itu bagi memberi peluang kepada OKU untuk mencuba skuba sebagai hidroterapi.

Jelasnya, melalui menyelam skuba mereka dapat memberikan semangat dan harapan baharu kepada pesakit berkenaan dengan suasana berbeza di dalam air disamping tiada tekanan kepada tubuh badan.

“Pesakit ini dapat bergerak lebih banyak contohnya seperti Freddick sendiri dapat membuat selaman sekitar 20 minit.

“Kita berharap program ini dapat diteruskan bagaimanapun ia memerlukan sukarelawan untuk membantu dan dana yang mana kos bagi satu sesi adalah sekitar RM300 seorang bagi menyewa peralatan skuba dan keperluan berkaitan,” ujarnya.

Sehubungan itu, Ernest menyeru kepada badan korporat atau individu yang berminat untuk menaja atau menjadi sukarelawan sesi menyelam skuba khusus kepada OKU yang memerlukan sebagai satu sumbangan dan tanggungjawab sosial korporat.

“Sebarang pertanyaan boleh menghubungi saya di talian 012-8892336,” katanya. – UTUSAN ONLINE

Watch video on Youtube.

Read original article on Utusan website.

Malaysia: Diveheart Borneo program in Kuching, Sarawak (video)

Malaysia: Diveheart Borneo program in Kuching, Sarawak (video)

Premier Marine and Scuba Centre

Diveheart Borneo program in Kuching Sarawak with DiveHeart Coordinator, Mr Ernest C Teo and Premier Marine Scuba Centre Kuching. The Dive Experience program was the 1st in Borneo Region involving Medical Professionals as DiveHeart Adaptive Dive Buddy from Kuching General Hospital. Imagine the possibilities.

Watch video on Youtube.

WREX-TV13: Diveheart Scuba Offers Experience to Students with Disabilities

WREX-TV13: Diveheart Scuba Offers Experience to Students with Disabilities

Rockford, Illinois

Diveheart comes to a pool at Boylan High School in Rockford, Illinois, to help students with disabilities.

Scuba diving can be a way to enjoy being in the water from a different perspective, but one organization is using it to give people with disabilities a fresh outlook on life.

Dive Heart hosted one of it’s Scuba Experience programs at Boylan high school for a select group of people from the stateline area.

The non profit works around the world helping people with a variety of disabilities to build self-esteem through scuba diving.

“We work with people with cerebal palsy and muscular dystrophy, a lot of people on the autism spectrum. If there’s no medical reason for them not to get in the water, we work with them,” said Dive Heart Executive Director Tinamarie Hernandez.

This is Dive Heart’s second trip to Rockford.

They put on an event last year after hearing the story of Amber Rangel who was disabled in a water ski accident four years ago.

“Through becoming a quadriplegic she has done all of these organizations and Dive Heart has really become a part of our family,” said Rangel’s sister Ariel Krueger.

Last year’s event was organized in Rangel’s backyard pool to make it convenient for people to come participate.

Sarah Jones was one of the divers at last year’s event.

Jones has Transverse Myelitis, an auto immune that attacks her spinal cord making her unable to walk.

She says she came back to Dive Heart because she feels free while underwater.

“I’m also able to walk a little bit in the water. I feel like a normal person so I really like it,” said Jones.

Jones says Dive Heart has given her not only an exciting experience but also a way to meet and connect with people in the community.

“It’s really kind of a beautiful thing just everyone working together and having fun and helping out,” said Jones.

The feelings Jones has are just one example of how Dive Heart tries to motivate people through their motto: “Imagine the Possibilities.”

“We want to encourage people to be more independent, be more self confident, to do something really cool that a lot of people are afraid to do but they can do it,” said Hernandez.

Dive Heart hopes to expand their programs to eventually have an office build here in Rockford to bring in more divers.

You can find out more about Dive Heart’s programs and how you can volunteer to be a part of them by going to diveheart.org.

See full article and watch video on WREX-TV13 website

Engage Mag: COD Alumnus Jim Elliott, CEO of Diveheart

Engage Mag: Alumnus Jim Elliott, CEO of Diveheart

Magazine of the College of DuPage (COD)

From COD to CEO — Page 3
Jim Elliott’s Diveheart inspires adaptive divers to focus on abilities, not disabilities.

COD alum and Diveheart founder Jim Elliott is a breath of fresh oxygen for people with disabilities

The stereotypical college-to-career story goes like this:
Go to school.
Earn your degree in a particular field.
Go to work in that field.

But sometimes, even the most remote collegiate experience can make an unexpected impact long after the student has left the classroom.

Yes, you read that correctly: Diveheart helps people who’ve lost limbs; people who suffer from chronic pain; people with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, autism and other conditions by getting them into the water and breathing oxygen from tanks on their backs.

And yes, this is all headquartered in the flatlands of Chicagoland.

The Diveheart seed was planted when Elliott’s daughter Erin was born blind in 1980. Elliott and his

Case in point: COD alumnus Jim Elliott.

Elliott studied journalism at COD. After earning his associate degree, he earned a bachelor’s in sports writing from Northern Illinois University.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the press box. An entrepreneur since he
started caddying at Riverside Golf Club at age 12, Elliott quickly moved from sports writing to advertising sales.

He remained in the media business for two decades, working as an advertising executive for the Chicago Tribune Media Group, WGN and CLTV.

Then, despite his annual six-figure salary, he quit. Instead of selling space and time, he founded a nonprofit organization—one that has since helped thousands of people with disabilities in Illinois and around the world.

And it all started not with a journalism class—but a scuba diving class—at College of DuPage.

Elliott, now 61, is the founder of the Diveheart Foundation (www.diveheart.org). Established in Downers Grove in 2001, this non-profit 501(c)3 organization set out to “build confidence and independence and self esteem in children, adults [including military veterans] with disabilities through scuba diving.”

[More … (please download PDF file)]

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X-Ray Mag: Diveheart Malaysia Making Waves and Expanding

X-Ray Mag: Diveheart Malaysia Making Waves and Expanding

Diveheart Malaysia has been making waves since the organization started regular, monthly, in-pool scuba training programs for persons with disabilities (PWD) trained by Diveheart Ambassador and funder and director of Kids Scuba Malaysia, Syed And Rahman, who worked closely with the rehabilitation unit for spinal cord injury (SCI) patients of the University of Malaya Medical Center (UMMC) in Kuala Lumpur.

Download PDF file of this article

WGN-TV9: Local Veteran Brings Sea Statue to America – Finally Sees It

WGN-TV9: Local Veteran Brings Sea Statue to America – Then Finally Sees It


It’s one of the most popular underwater tourist attractions in the world, a 9 foot statue of Christ located just below the ocean in the Florida Keys.

The 400 pound bronze statue of Christ was a gift from the Italians to American divers.

But it was a Korean War veteran from Chicago who was instrumental in delivering the statue to its permanent home.

Gabriel Spataro is one of Chicago’s Very Own.


See full article and watch video on WGN-TV website