Diveheart helps people with disabilities through scuba therapy
Scuba therapy lets people experience an opportunity they may never have thought possible. Diveheart, a nonprofit organization that was created to help build confidence and bolster self-esteem among people with disabilities, makes this a reality.
[UNDERWATER BREATHING] CRAIG RESS: Suddenly, it's quiet. [TRANQUIL MUSIC]
The only sound is of the bubbles, and every now and then, if you're blessed, you'll hear a dolphin or a whale.
The strongest people I've ever met are disabled, and these people live lives and-- and-- and go
through difficulties that we can't imagine. We take them down below, and people
have walked for the first time in 30 years and some of them in their entire life.
So it's-- it's amazing.
See you in there, guys. Diveheart's a nonprofit of 501(c)(3) that I founded
in 2001 to help people with disabilities through scuba therapy. One, two, three.
Zero-gravity is-- is a lot like the environment on the moon, so once we trim them out and get them neutrally buoyant,
they're completely weightless, and their breath controls their up and down movement. That's a sweet spot. That's the astronaut moment. [UPLIFTING MUSIC]
Some of the doctors and researchers that have gone on trips have found that there's an extra output of serotonin in the human body.
It's 66 feet underwater. That's 3 atmospheres. It helps with pain management, alleviates PTSD symptoms,
and we've had people who have had chronic pain who are pain-free for up to three weeks when we get them deep enough. That's the key.
GARY ELSNER: For me, what it feels like is the feeling of comfort and relaxation
because I think, in my case, all-- all the pain goes away, and you just-- all of a sudden, you feel like everything's fine.
It's an equalizing force for able-bodied and disabled people. We put them all in the-- in the water together.
Everybody is pretty much equal. KAREN MITCHELL: It's a total freedom. It's-- I leave my wheelchair up on the boat.
I just love it. It's-- I get to see all the fish, the coral. It's a whole different world down there.
[UNDERWATER BREATHING] I have a cardiovascular workout that I can't really get in a wheelchair. It feels like I'm flying.
WILHELMINA STANTON: Christina is my best friend. She has cerebral palsy, so making everything barrier-free and accessible for people
has always been really important to me. Seeing the joy in people's faces when they come up after the first dive after they're seeing something that they never knew was possible
is just out of this world. MICHAEL KAUFMAN: They are constrained and confined to the wheelchair. Want to go diving?
Yeah! When we take them diving, there's a certain look that I see in their eyes--
I know what freedom is about. I am-- I am now empowered. I'll get back into that chair, but I know now there's some other things in life that I can do.
JIM ELLIOTT: And what we believe at Diveheart is that people with disabilities represent an unrealized human potential. Plus you're building that self-esteem and confidence,
and it's very cool. I mean, if you're in a wheelchair and you can scuba dive, you roll into a party, and you got something cool to talk about.
And-- and that cool factor is-- is no small thing. It-- it-- it creates an identity, and then they start believing in themselves.
And that's what it's all about, really, is to have hope. [UNDERWATER BREATHING]
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