Thanks to the wonder of the water column, the oceans and lakes of the world become the forgiving, weightless environment of outer space. This offers perfect buoyancy and balance to any individual who might struggle on land, in the hope of providing physical and psychological therapeutic value. With its mantra of Imagine the Possibilities, Diveheart seeks to instill a can-do spirit in its participants. Diveheart has touched the lives of thousands of individuals with disabilities around the world: each with unique stories.
Ryan is a 31-year old man with a severe neurological disorder. In a wheel chair, Ryan has no mobility or independence. Underwater, he glides, free from his wheelchair.
Greg, a 33-year old Marine veteran suffered a traumatic brain injury, leaving him with serious physical impairment. Greg credits Diveheart with giving him back his life.
Ashley is a 27-year old woman who is legally blind and has cerebral palsy. “When I’m in the water I feel better. Like I’m freed from my physical challenges,” she said.
Many of Diveheart’s adventures take place in the lakes and oceans of the world, but the diving instruction and many of Diveheart’s programs, happen in community pools including those in recreation or rehab centers, high schools, hotels, hospitals and more.
Diveheart works with virtually any type of disability. Diveheart participants include individuals with paraplegia, quadriplegia, amputations, vision and/or hearing impairment, post traumatic stress disorder, Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and many other types of physical and cognitive disabilities.
In 2001, Jim Elliott of suburban Chicago, founded Diveheart, a non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organization. His vision was to build confidence and independence in children, adults and veterans with disabilities, through the sport of scuba diving.
Diveheart’s headquarters are in Downers Grove, near Chicago. There is a chapter in the U.K., and Diveheart teams throughout the U.S. Diveheart works with individuals, clubs, recreational groups, hospitals and veterans’ organizations.
Since its inception, Diveheart has trained thousands of volunteers in order to be able to carry on its mission throughout the world. Diveheart has worked with individuals across the U.S. and Mexico, Israel, Australia, China, the Caribbean and more.
Diveheart developed a first-of-its-kind complete adaptive diver and instructor program, encompassing best practices in the field. The online program with integrated manuals, pioneers new concepts, techniques and protocols and will revolutionize adaptive scuba practices around the world.
Diveheart’s dream is to have a site where children, adults and veterans with disabilities can be served, through scuba therapy. The one-of-a-kind facility would also be a hub for addressing scuba-related research, rehabilitation, education and vocational training.
Diveheart is volunteer-driven. With the exception of part-time staff, everyone including the founder/president is a volunteer. What that means is that all of the funding received through grants and from Diveheart’s generous sponsors and donors, goes directly into the organization’s programs.