A total of 14 scuba instructors from various Sandals resorts across Jamaica recently participated in a four-day Dive Buddy Course conducted by the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA). The HSA is responsible for supporting and improving the physical and social well-being of people with disabilities, through the sport of scuba diving.
The Dive Buddy Course, according to HAS, is a combination of in-class sessions with confined and open water exercises, designed to simulate disabilities. During these simulations, dive buddies get a chance to experience what it may be like to be a mobility or sight-impaired diver and the special considerations needed when planning and diving with them.
“It was a rewarding experience both for myself as the instructor and for the students. The dive team here at Sandals are clearly professionals and are excited to learn the new skills. It’s a real privilege to share this with the team so that they can offer a more inclusive package in watersports,” said HAS trainer, Mark Rausch.
He added, “I was inspired by the death of my youngest son who was born with a disability (cystic fibrosis) but has now passed away. This is more of a passion for me to share this programme and help to enrich the lives of other persons with disabilities.”
Horneil Vaughn, dive instructor at Beaches Ocho Rios was very happy to be part of the sessions.
“I came here with an open mind to learn this new skill. It is amazing how much I’ve learnt. I am very proud of the company I work for and the opportunity given to us to increase our knowledge in our field of expertise,” he noted.“ A person unable to see or move their limbs freely can enjoy the wonders of scuba diving, but they will have to rely on their trained dive buddy for guidance, and that is how we come in. Diving, by itself, is therapeutic. They will still experience the feelings, movements and pressure of the water, the ripples of the sand under the water, the sound of bubbles and of breathing just like able divers do. These are all intriguing factors of diving that make the sport so awesome and special,” added Vaughn.