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Dive Pirates Foundation uses new SSI tools to train disabled divers

The Dive Pirates Foundation spent the month of April providing regional dive training to dive centers interested in offering diving to persons with disabilities. Five dive centers took part in the training aimed at updating current Adaptive Dive Instructors with the new standards for training disabled divers, now called Classified Diver Instructors, while inviting other centers to join in during this first round of training.

Scuba Schools International (SSI) has revamped what used to be called Adaptive Diver Instruction to a new Classified Diver Program that truly evaluates what a diver with disabilities can do, and then uses that information to classify that diver as a Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 diver,” explained Barbara Thompson, President of the Dive Pirates Foundation and SSI Instructor Trainer. Dive Pirates is a non-profit that offers diving to persons with disabilities, especially injured military veterans. “The classification helps identify the amount of assistance needed based on the individual, instead of the disability as before, which is much more personalized.”

Thompson, along with Dive Pirate co-founder Sophie Wimberley, traveled to Boulder, Colorado to offer training to staff members of Ocean First Divers and Denver Divers. Three Instructors from Ocean First Divers, Roger Young, Chad Koll and Gary Boyer, and two instructors from Denver Divers, Alexandria Miller and David Beebe, are now certified to teach divers with disabilities, and both centers have now signed on to be Dive Pirate Chapters.

Tom Bartley with Dive Masters in San Antonio (a long- standing Chapter of the Dive Pirates) hosted the next round, with Tom’s Dive and Swim of Austin taking part. Bartley is now a Classified Instructor Trainer, while staff members Travis Wentworth, Dave Allen and Eric Becker are certified Classified Instructors; along with Kirk Stolzenburg and Alan Wong of Tom’s Dive and Swim in Austin.

Lastly, Shreveport’s Scuba Ventures took part, with Jason Feldt, Trey Jordan and John Murray now certified; also a new Dive Pirates Chapter.

“It’s been a busy month, and we are thrilled by the response of dive stores, and honored by those who now want to be affiliated with the foundation,” Thompson said. “After our upcoming dive trip with this year’s foundation recipients we will look for opportunities for more training.”

The Dive Pirates Foundation thanks SSI for taking the lead in standardizing training for people with disabilities, and sponsoring the training materials for foundation recipients.

The Dive Pirates Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing scuba diving to persons with disabilities and joining them with the mainstream of divers. Its vision is to create a community of classified divers that will dive and travel in the mainstream world of scuba diving through education and overcoming obstacles. For more information go to