WBEZ 91.5 Chicago NPR: Disability Therapy Through Scuba Diving – Tinamarie Hernandez

Global Activism: Disability Therapy Through Scuba Diving – Interview with Diveheart’s Tinamarie Hernandez


The organization Diveheart believes in the therapeutic value of scuba diving for people with physical disabilities. Since 2002, they have offered the thrill of weightlessness to people across the U.S. and in Mexico, Israel, Australia, China and the Caribbean. Diveheart works with people with autism, reduced mobility and reduced vision or hearing. An underwater experience can open up physical and psychological possibilities for participants. Joining us to discuss the program is Diveheart’s executive director, Tinamarie Hernandez.

View article & listen on WBEZ site

NBC 5 Chicago: Diveheart Offers Scuba Therapy for Disabled Community

Diveheart Offers Scuba Therapy for Disabled Community (video)

NBC 5 Chicago News: Making A Difference

A non-profit in Downers Grove is making a difference. The organization is asking people to donate wetsuits in hopes to use them to take children, adults and veterans with disabilities scuba diving. NBC 5’s Anayeli Ruiz has the details.

View article and video on NBC 5 Chicago website

Catholic Chicago Radio: Interview with Gabe Spataro & Jim Elliott

Catholic Chicago Radio: Interview with Gabe Spataro & Jim Elliott

Archdiocese of Chicago

Diveheart is a non-profit organization that uses scuba diving to help build confidence and self-esteem in children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Guests: Jim Elliott; Gabe Spataro.

CBS11 News: North Texas Group Takes People With Disabilities Diving

North Texas Group Takes People With Disabilities Diving (video)

CBS 11 News

Living with a disability can often mean being told you can’t do certain things but one North Texas group wants the disabled to know there one thing they can do.

View article and video on CBS11 website

Naperville (Illinois) NCTV17: Diveheart Provides Safe Activities for Adaptive Divers

Naperville (Illinois) NCTV17: Diveheart Provides Safe Activities for Adaptive Divers to enjoy the wonders of the aquatic world (video)

The purpose of Diveheart is to provide and support 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.

Utilizing certified adaptive dive buddies, Diveheart provides safe and inclusive activities for adaptive divers to enjoy the wonders of the aquatic world. The forgiving, weightless wonder of the water column provides the perfect gravity-free environment for those who might otherwise struggle on land. Underwater, we’re all equal.

Diveheart focuses on abilities not disabilities to instill the can do spirit. The goal is to inspire participants to take on challenges that before might have seemed impossible. Using zero gravity and the adventure paradigm, they help participants believe that if they can scuba dive they can do anything.

Programming is available to 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 seeks to help its participants “Imagine the Possibilities” in their lives.

View article and video on NCTV17 website

Nonprofits, businesses create beneficial collaborations to better communities

Nonprofits, businesses create beneficial collaborations to better communities

by Jim Elliott
Daily Herald (Chicago)

The collaboration between for profit businesses and organizations in the nonprofit world is part art and part science. In today’s climate of corporate citizenship and community engagement it is challenging for businesses to find the right cause or organization that can be a potential partner.

With my nonprofit, Downers Grove-based Diveheart, I discovered the perfect partner with Private Vista. Diveheart is a volunteer driven nonprofit organization that helps children, veterans and others with disabilities through a cutting edge therapy in zero gravity called “scuba therapy.” Private Vista is a financial consulting and money management firm with offices in Oak Brook and Chicago.

In development of partnership, I found the firm to be a good cultural and strategic fit and a natural extension for networking and fostering friendships.

Searching for that right partner may come through casual meetings at events or through organizations that help business owners. The timing was perfect when I made my connection with Private Vista. This happened through a Vistage CEO peer group meeting where I met with Bob Westrich, one of the firm’s partners.

After a daylong discussion about corporate culture versus strategy and goals at a Vistage meeting, we started brainstorming about possible opportunities in which the two organizations might be able to collaborate on a mutually beneficial project to benefit the community.

When coming together, both nonprofits and businesses must visualize how they can both better the community at large as well as clientele to achieve a win-win situation for everyone involved. For example, Diveheart helps facilitate cutting edge research with university medical centers around the country, and with the help of Midwestern University researchers in Downers Grove, they discovered that “scuba therapy” is very effective as a therapy for individuals with autism.

My proposal to the firm was simple. If many people have been touched in some way someone with autism, then there is a good chance that some of the firm’s clients, staff and families have that experience as well.

In the proposal, through Diveheart I offered free scuba experience pool programs to the firm’s network of clients, staff and their families who are touched by autism. With this program, the firm is reaching out to the community in a unique way that adds value to its existing relationships.

In reciprocal fashion, the firm would also extend our scuba therapy opportunity to friends and acquaintances of their clients and staff. By going beyond their immediate sphere of influence, this firm has a chance to reach new potential clients.
Through my connection with the firm, the tangible benefits of a nonprofit and a business collaboration are these:

• When a nonprofit and a business work together, there are opportunities to benefit different target audiences. When a nonprofit presents a free chance for the business’ clientele to try a program, that business adds value to current relationships while reaching out to new prospects.

• By introducing new audiences to an educational and beneficial program, the nonprofit may receive new participants and potential donors to its mission and vision. Some of these participants can reach others by sharing their positive experiences.

• Another way to reach to people is through traditional and social media outlets. Those outlets that publish or post “feel good” stories about the nonprofit and business partnership will build instant exposure and goodwill within the community. Both the nonprofit and business can use their own social media channels to post their efforts as well.

Jim Elliott is the founder and president of the Downers Grove-based nonprofit Diveheart.

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Read full article on Daily Herald website

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.