Sharing my love for the sea by teaching new divers and introducing them to the underwater world is a joy for me. Any instructor can tell you how much fun it is to see a new diver’s eyes open wide with excitement when they breathe under water for the first time, achieve neutral buoyancy, or take that first plunge into the deep blue sea. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of someone else’s new found excitement. Anyone who wonders about the sea in that way should have the opportunity to experience it.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the physical ability to enjoy the sea as easily as most divers do, or to enjoy the camaraderie of just relaxing with other divers and sharing sea stories. Many of these people actually could experience these wonders with the help of other divers; divers like you and me. The Handicapped SCUBA Association (HSA), with its beginnings in 1975, was established for just that – to bring SCUBA and all of its wonders to people with some type of physical disability.
So, why do I bring this up you might ask? Because after hearing about all of the work being done for our combat veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project, I decided I wanted to help. I approached Patriots for Disabled Divers to ask how I might be of service to them. Their response was to get me into a class to become a HSA SCUBA Instructor. I’m about halfway done with my training at this point and I can honestly say, it’s been an eye opening experience!
Through the program I’ve had the opportunity to work with simulated paraplegics, quadriplegics, and blind divers. I’ve also had to simulate all of these conditions for other course participants. The amount of responsibility you take on as a buddy or instructor to people with these conditions ranges from little more than with a normally abled diver to needing to do almost everything but breathe for them. It requires confidence in yourself, your training, your equipment, and other divers around you. But, it is also an opportunity to truly share the joy of diving with others as you guide them in the underwater world and enjoy time with them afterwards. It is your opportunity to give the incredible enrichment of the sea – something they may not have otherwise have felt.
If you are an experienced and confident diver, I encourage you to give serious consideration to getting trained and certified as an HSA Buddy, Divemaster, or Instructor. Share the thrill of the sea and post dive camaraderie with people who are just like you and I… just differently abled and unable to experience the sea in this way without your assistance.