Teens with disabilities enjoy scuba

Divetech at Cobalt Coast Dive Resort on the island of Grand Cayman was this year’s summer locale for a Chicago Hospital’s annual dive trip for young people with disabilities.

Shriners Hospitals for Children, Chicago, offers teens with disabilities an opportunity to experience the amazing underwater world, said a press release. The hospital and the Diveheart Foundation take up to six young people with spinal cord injuries between the ages of 13 and 21 every summer to a tropical locale to learn the sport of scuba diving.

This year’s programme ran from 26 July through 2 August at Divetech at Cobalt Coast Dive Resort. Upon completion of the programme, teens will become certified divers and become more independent in their life skills.

The teens spend three days in the scuba classroom including academic lessons, pool skills and completing ocean dives to learn all they need to know about scuba. Once this training is complete, participants head to the ocean to dive where they are free from their wheelchairs and walkers and become one with the underwater world. Adult role models from the Chicago community who are Handicapped Scuba Association certified buddies make this amazing adventure possible.

The teens being certified this year included Meredith Elston, Michael Lewis, Kraig Kettler, Meagan Waffle and Shealon Kuly.

The release noted that this year’s group lives by the motto ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all’.

Diving in Grand Cayman is an ideal setting for beginners, with warm waters, easy access to shallow, colourful reefs, excellent visibility accompanied by the well trained staff from Diveheart and Divetech. The experience brought smiles to everyone and provided the teens with a rewarding lifetime experience, the release noted.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is an international health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to providing paediatric specialty care, innovative research, and teaching programmes.

The Diveheart Foundation is a non-profit organization, providing scuba diving and snorkelling experience programmes for the physically impaired.