Scuba diving clinic for the disabled returns to Grand Rapids

The diving masks were on and the tanks were full – children and adults with disabilities spent their Saturdays learning to dive, learning new skills and making lifelong memories in Grand Rapids.

After a year hiatus due to the pandemic, Mary Free Bed’s Adaptive Scuba Diving Clinic returned to East Grand Rapids High School for her 10th year.

“It’s fun,” said Nash Devers, a 13-year-old who was attending for the first time.

People with disabilities of all ages have the opportunity to put on scuba gear and dive underwater.

Some are seasoned vets who come back year after year. Others, like Nash, are new but they love the different experience.

“Trust me, it’s completely different from swimming,” Nash said to FOX 17. “You have all this gear and you have to do it with your nose, but once you get used to it you can do it super easily. “

The organizers will place items on the bottom of the pool to play with, such as underwater torpedoes, hula hoops, frisbees and a treasure chest.

“Do you have a chance to get something out of this yet?” Asked FOX 17 Nash.

“Yes,” he replied. “You have to find out for yourself, however, if you want something.”

The tangible toys are a nice touch, with attendees getting help from dive-certified dive buddies with Adaptive Diving Unlimited and Capital City Scuba. However, this program is about much more.

It’s about learning to relax, try new things, and overcome your fears.

“Sometimes they’re nervous; They’re not sure they can do this, “said Christy Van Haver, Mary Free Bed’s sports coordinator.” They’re scared, ‘Can I do it?’ They all come out with huge smiles. ‘I did it! That was really great. ‘ They’ll be back next year if they don’t register for diving lessons themselves. “

And even volunteers agree that the experiences outside of the pool are just as valuable as those in the pool.

Rob Lyczynski, one of Adaptive Diving Unlimited’s dive buddies, said, “The relationships you build through relationships with the people, the customers, the other people you work with … It’s just great to see the joy that you have you make other people out of it. “

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