Diveheart Hosts Inspiring Week at Florida Keys Community College
Florida Keys Community College was once again the destination for a group of inspirational adventurers seeking to overcome disabilities through the healing powers of diving. Diveheart, a Chicago-based non-profit, organized the trip to FKCC’s James E. Lockwood Jr. School of Diving and Underwater Technology last week. The enthusiastic participants from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago enjoyed SCUBA diving and snorkeling in the college’s dive lagoon/underwater classroom on the Key West campus.
Diveheart provides and supports educational SCUBA and snorkeling experience programs to children, adults, and veterans with disabilities in the hope of providing both physical and psychological therapy. Through SCUBA diving, the oceans and lakes of the world become a forgiving, weightless environment, providing perfect buoyancy to a child or adult who would otherwise struggle on land. Diveheart’s goal is to instill a “CAN DO” spirit in all of their participants; their experiences underwater build confidence and a sense of independence that enables them to face their own life challenges and overcome barriers that before might have seemed insurmountable.
FKCC and Diveheart were brought together by the generosity of diving pioneer James E. Lockwood, Jr., who bequeathed funds to both institutions to further advance their respective diving programs. Since then, college faculty and staff have worked with Diveheart to introduce divers with disabilities, particularly wounded veterans, to FKCC diving course curriculum, such as underwater archeology and coral reef restoration.
Diveheart hopes to inspire a passion for scuba diving in veterans with disabilities; then, to help them focus on career opportunities in scuba diving, marine, and aquatic sciences.
“That’s where FKCC comes in,” says Diveheart President, Jim Elliot. “Imagine if we could convert all the sedentary hours of a veteran with a disability to productive hours researching and participating in something like coral reef restoration. It would be a win-win… it would be helping the individual and the environment.”
FKCC Diving Director, Bill Chalfant, echoes this sediment, “We are honored to work with Diveheart and hope that what these individuals learn and experience at FKCC has a positive impact on their lives.”
FKCC will be the destination for many more Diveheart adventure trips with groups from a variety of organizations for children, adults, and veterans overcoming disabilities. “My goal is to bring down groups all year long from all over the U.S.,” says Elliot.
FKCC will next welcome Diveheart adventurers on July 28th, when the group brings kids from Chicago’s Shriners Children’s Hospital for more life-changing underwater experiences.