3 December marks the day of the annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons. The observance was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3 with the aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
When we secure the rights of people with disabilities, we move closer to achieving the central promise of the 2030 Agenda – to leave no one behind.
– António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
Underwater360 celebrates this day to honour individuals with disabilities and dive organisations who offer dive courses for this group of people.
A Diver with Disability (Paraplegia)
Faisal Jawad Hashim is the Guinness World Record Holder for the Fastest 10KM Scuba Dive in 5 hours 24 minutes and is one of the many distinguished persons who served as an inspiration to many. A diver with disability, Faisal overcame depression following his disability from a horrible car accident to start Alfaisal Universal Centre – the biggest health institute in the field of physiotherapy in terms of vision and concept. Faisal enjoys diving because he can feel free underwater. His triumph over his disability has rebuilt his confidence and made him a motivational speaker and trainer.
Everyone suffers from loss in life. Some people crumble but others see that being strong is the only option.
– Faisal Jawad Hashim, Guinness World Record Holder for the Fastest 10KM Scuba Dive
Diving Associations Offering Dive Courses for the Disabled
There are many dive organisations offering dive courses for the disabled – including PADI, SSI, SDI/TDI, CMAS, and RAID. But among all these, two stood out in offering dive courses purely for the community of the disabled – namely Diveheart and Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA).
Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA)
Founded in 1975 by James A. F. Gatacre, Handicapped Scuba Association first conducted its research programme at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) focusing on changing the false perception on persons with disabilities and organising programmes for disabled scuba diving students with those who aren’t. Participants were required to perform all physical performance standards for Scuba certification, even if they had to do them differently. Nevertheless, the programme resulted to everyone, with and without disabilities, growing in ways immeasurable and living fuller and exciting lives.
The Handicapped Scuba Association has dedicated itself to improving the physical and social well-being of people with disabilities through the sport of scuba diving. Made up of over 4000 underwater educators, scuba divers with disabilities and supporting members, located in over 45 countries, the Handicapped Scuba Association is dedicated to assuring that people with disabilities are given the same opportunity to receive quality training, certification and dive adventures as the able bodied population.
Scuba diving is an adaptive sport – for everyone, with or without a disability!
– James A. F. Gatacre, President of HSA
DiveHeart was established in 2000 based in Downers Grove Chicago US as a nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organisation. 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. DiveHeart works with 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.
DiveHeart would like extend opportunities to the special community in other regions in Asia to be able and share the knowledge and expertise to train more diving community to be qualified and certified in handling the special community divers underwater.
The organisation welcomes the support from other instructors, dive centers, dive agencies, hospital rehab medical departments in Asia to work together for their goal to assist the special community to scuba dive and feel the zero gravity and enjoy the dive therapy.
Underwater360 invites anyone from the handicapped community to join our ADEX events for FREE. Read more about ADEX here.