Diving With Disabilities

Organization uses scuba diving as a way to improve people’s quality of life
BY: PHIL GOODE

Since it was established 15 years ago, the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation has invested $15 million USD in local programs that help improve children’s quality of life, with a focus on health. But unlike most other non-profits, which raise money for their own programs, the LCCF uses the donations it gets to support and strengthen other community programs.

The LCCF recently announced its 26 grantees for 2017-18, and over the next year the Gringo Gazette will be featuring each organization and the work they do. In this issue, we are profiling Busceo sin Barreras (Diving without Borders), a non-profit organization that offers scuba diving instruction to people with disabilities.

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Busceo sin Barreras (Diving without Borders) is one of the new organizations the LCCF is benefitting this year. The program is open to everyone, although its focus is helping those with disabilities. Using specialized equipment and, when necessary, an instructor acting as a diving buddy, disabled adults and children are able to enjoy the benefits scuba diving can give them.

Started in Argentina in 2009, Busceo sin Barreras has a network of both volunteer and professional divers who have been trained to teach people with disabilities. The program, which also operates in Colombia and Uruguay, offers various training programs and community activities. They include: an introduction to diving class, where new divers learn the basics of scuba diving in a controlled environment (a swimming pool); diving training, which teaches people at all levels of diving, including professional level training, which places an emphasis on teaching people with disabilities; and training on the accessibility guidelines, in accordance with the International Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities.

According to Busceo sin Barreras, scuba diving is a highly therapeutic, rehabilitating and integrative activity that helps improves people’s quality of life. Scuba diving is a great sport for people with disabilities because the water is a great equalizer. What you can do on land doesn’t matter much when you’re in the water, and one of the key diving skills, buoyancy control, can be mastered by people with a whole range of disabilities. Scuba diving allows for an excellent cardiovascular workout that isn’t overly challenging, and that provides a good workout that doesn’t place any stress on the joints.

Since scuba diving requires a certain level of physical fitness, people who have a strong desire to dive find that they are able to push themselves to new levels they didn’t think were possible before. And with the elimination of gravity under water, muscle coordination and flexibility are noticeably increased.

Diving is not only good for the body, it can work wonders on the mind as well. The sense of independence and freedom offered by underwater weightlessness can help people with disabilities develop a more positive and optimistic attitude. Imagine, if you were stuck in a wheelchair all day every day; how great would it feel to be able to move your body underwater in ways that you normally couldn’t?

Diving also demands a high level of focus, which can help to alleviate the stresses and anxieties experienced in everyday life.

One of the main problems many disabled people experience is social isolation. Diving is a highly social activity, with participants meeting a variety of other people from all walks of life. Diving is a sport that also encourages teamwork, respect for nature and their fellow divers, and self-care.

Busceo sin Barreras hosted two events in Los Cabos over the summer, and has another one planned for this month. For more information on this organization, visit their website at www.buceosinbarreras.org (it’s in Spanish, so have Google Translate ready). To learn more about the work of the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation, visit their website at www.loscaboschildren.org.