When we first learn to scuba dive, we are taught about the “Buddy-System.” The buddy is there to ensure you are prepared to dive, to share the objective of the dive, to be your wingman during the dive and to share the magnificent experiences after the dive. This is a basic element of diving…as it should be in life.
I began working with disabled veterans and other students with physical or cognitive challenges about 2010. I’ve witnessed amazing transformations from reluctant and perhaps frightened students, to confident divers full of excitement and with a new found zest for adventure. Challenges are overcome, fear and trepidation are conquered, and futures are planned.
I believe that this element of diving, the buddy, is one of the most impactful reason that scuba diving has far reaching, positive effects on those with physical and/or cognitive challenges. No one dives alone. You have someone to lean on, and assist. By definition, the journey of scuba certification is with a trusted body at your side. This is very powerful as it enables the student to focus and allow the grace of weightlessness and the quiet calm of the underwater world to wash over them. Once that happens, the healing can begin, and it starts in the soul.
The PADI Adaptive Techniques course arms the instructor with an adaptive approach to be tailored to the individual. You as the PADI pro must deliver the course to build competence and confidence and establish the ‘Launch Point’ from which the Diver begins the healing process.
The last critical piece to enabling healing is the encouragement to dive. We’ve set the stage, readied the student for launch. You need to hold your hand out and say, “Diver, now let’s go diving!” That lights the fuse.
Water is a forgiving effective and enticing medium for recovery. Scuba is the tool that allows you to leverage that medium and provide opportunity to continue recovery. The Dive Buddy is the catalyst and the support that helps the Adaptive Diver on his/her healing journey. No one dives alone.