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September 30, 2010

What is Your Disablity? An Introduction – Chicagoland’s One Best Kept Secret

I am pleased to introduce you to Jim Elliott, president and founder of a fantastic non-for-profit organization called, Diveheart. Check out his web site at diveheart.org to learn more about scheduled events, dive sights and courses for the disabled and volunteer divers. Courses happen all over the U.S. You will learn what this one founder and all of Diveheart’s volunteers have been able to accomplish since the organization’s inception in 2001.

Diveheart provides snorkeling and scuba diving instruction, training, and offers trips to all people with any type of disability. There is no discrimination; you can be male or female, a child or an adult with any challenge or disability. Diveheart will provide you with opportunities to snorkel and/or dive. Or, if you do not have experience in diving, Diveheart will help you secure a way so you can dive. Diveheart has taken a large number of people, with various disabilities, diving all over the United States, the Carribean, and Mexico.

I personally recall when my son, Ian, who has autism, attended his very first “Discover Scuba” class at the Holiday Inn Select in Naperville, IL. Diveheart made sure that there were plenty of volunteers who were willing to get my frightened son to don scuba gear, and into the water breathing through a regulator.

An amazing transformation took place that evening: Scuba relaxed my son and helped him to stay calm. Up to this point, Ian had not been able to learn anything as quickly as he did that evening.  Perhaps the calming effect, and the skilled volunteers helped him to remain engaged for the duration of his initial dive attempt.  When Ian arrived to the surface again, it had been over an hour since he learned that he could float under water and breathe simultaneously. He was proud and happy and displayed a facial expression and attitude I had not seen before.  

That evening, Ian also got to experience diving with people who made their first attempt without sight. They were military veterans from Hines VA, Maywood, IL. He learned that autism is not the only “disability” in the world. And diving with the blind opened Ian’s eyes to the world of disability. He learned that with a disability one can continue to overcome challenges. The effort put forth by all involved that evening was heartwarming and thrilling for me as an outside obeserver.

This is why Diveheart is one of the best kept secrets in the Chicagoland for people with disabilities and volunteers alike. If you and your family are looking for recreation and therapy combined, the “Discover Scuba” class may just be the right thing for you. We are so thankful for Diveheart, that I feel it is worthy to inform you that this organization promotes the “ability” in disability, and helps to keep HOPE alive.

If you feel intimidated, take your family out to observe. If you go, you might as well make a reservation so Diveheart can have dive gear, snorkel gear, and volunteers ready upon your arrival. And, if you choose not to dive, there’s no harm done. You will get to meet some of the best of mankind. All it takes is your effort to get there and Diveheart will be delighted you came.

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