Are you looking for a new adventure? Have you ever wanted to try scuba diving but thought that it probably wouldn’t be accessible enough? Sean from Freedom divers Cyprus talks about how they got started and how they are able to help people have an out of this world, amazing experience despite a variety of disabilities.
Hi, my name’s Sean and it’s an honour to be able to write a piece for Disability Horizons about the accessible scuba diving that we offer here in Cyprus.
About three years ago I started a mobile scuba diving operation with the main aim of offering scuba diving to people with disabilities. I became a professional diver a few years ago and I wanted to share my love of the undersea world.
Being mobile allows us to take all the equipment necessary to wherever our customers are staying and without them having to get to a dive centre which can prove difficult.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the wonderful and positive people we’ve met through this. It’s amazing for us to be able to do this especially with those confined to a chair who would never think it possible to go diving. The look of sheer joy on everyone’s faces as we surface after a dive is beyond words.
We can take almost anyone diving, but it does take a lot of planning on our part. We need to understand the person’s disability first. They are given a 30-minute briefing beforehand to explain how the equipment works, the hand signals underwater and what each divers’ role will be underwater, from controlling your buoyancy to supporting your legs so that they don’t drag on the seabed. We’ll also help with access to the pool as this is where we usually begin for safety reason.
Once you’re ready, we’ll help with access to the sea, which can be a little difficult due to our shoreline, and we’ll also help you to equalise your ears underwater if you have limited hand movement There will be divers in the water with you at all times. We usually have at a minimum of two divers and three or four oxygen kits standing by. In addition, well have shore support to assist in getting the diver in and out of the water.
If someone is in a wheelchair then we usually need four people to help carry them with our pro move into the water. We take everything very slowly and only go underwater when you’re completely happy.
Once you’re breathing comfortably from a regulator on the surface, we then turn you over so that you’re breathing with your face in the water. It’s only then, once you signal us, that we will take you diving.
We stay shallow so that we can surface quickly and safely if you’re unhappy about anything. We only go to the maximum depth of six meters. The only thing you need to do underwater is breath – everything else is taken care of.[masterslider id=”15″]
We started a crowdfunding page a few months ago as we realised that we need more specialised equipment to help us better get people in and out of the water. We also need a sea scooter to help them move around easier underwater.
So far we’ve raised more than €600 though very kind donations. We still have a long way to go to reach our target, but we’ll get there.
We’ve had amazing support from a newspaper here in Cyprus and they’ve written several articles about what we’re trying to do. We’ve also had offers of help from other dive centres offering us equipment if we need any. This includes nitrox tanks, which contain more oxygen than a normal scuba tank and is beneficial to divers as it stops divers feeling as tired after a dive and even starting a collection box for us.
More offers from people just wishing to help carry people or equipment and just being there in case we need them. One diver has put a promotional video together on YouTube for us (see above), it’s about four minutes long and shows some of the wonderful people we’ve taken underwater.
Disability Horizons’ Co-founder Martyn has inspired me to such an extent that we’re planning a big event next year. It’ll be in Cyprus, but if we can get the support we need, then it will happen around the world. Disability Horizons and other world changers will be the first to hear about this.
We’re building things slowly and trying to spread the word through social media etc and hopefully, we’ll make a difference to people lives.
Find out more by visiting the Freedom Divers Cyprus website. You can see reviews from people who have used the company on Trip Advisor and support it by visiting its fundraising page. You can also contact Freedom Divers Cyprus by emailing email@example.com.
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