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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Diveheart: Stories from the Heart – ‘Adapting to Dive’


For many of us, walking is an ability we often take for granted. For others, like Barbara Mabbs from Aurora, the opportunity to be upright and watch her feet propel her body forward is a moment of pure joy.

In “Adapting to Dive,” an award-winning documentary about Diveheart, one of the documentary’s most impactful scenes – and one you need to keep re-watching to fully soak in what you are witnessing – Mabbs, who is a wheelchair user due to an unknown degenerative disease, is filmed walking on the Caribbean seafloor. The only aid Mabbs received came from one of her accompanying dive buddies holding the bottom of her scuba tank.

On land, limitations are part of Mabbs’ everyday struggles. Underwater, as Diveheart says, “we’re all equal.”

“When I’m under water, I can escape gravity, I can get out of my chair, I’m totally free,” Mabbs said in the film. “I don’t have to think about the day-to-day annoyances that I have to deal with. It’s just so calming.”

The benefits go far beyond that as adaptive divers in Diveheart’s programs can experience reduced pain, increased range of motion, relief from respiratory issues, improved self-esteem and independence, and the ability to trust and create social connections.

I’ve always described Scuba diving as flying. It’s freedom. It’s like being a superhero and an astronaut. The whole act of breathing under water is transforming, and then to get someone out of their wheelchair and standing up for the first time since an injury is a powerful combination that changes lives very quickly.

The documentary, “Adapting to Dive,” shows Diveheart trips as a kind of “family reunion.” Divers, dive buddies and instructors connect and celebrate each other and their successes, both in the water and out.

Being the executive director for a documentary like “Adapting to Dive” was a first for me which was exciting. And as it received more international film festival awards, I realized that I might never have the chance to find a filmmaker like David Marsh who knows our hearts and minds at Diveheart. I personnaly sponsored David to come on 10 more Diveheart trips. His work is reflected in our Diveheart playlist on YouTube.

For more information on Diveheart’s programs, the Diveheart Education & Research Facility, and how to become involved with the organization, visit www.diveheart.org and www.youtube.com/@DiveheartFoundation/playlists.

“Adapting to Dive” can be viewed on YouTube and ad-free on Amazon Prime.

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Jim Elliott
Jim Elliotthttp://www.diveheart.org
Jim Elliott left a successful career in the media business with the Tribune company to start the Downers Grove-based nonprofit Diveheart in 2001 to help individuals with disabilities through adaptive scuba and scuba therapy. For more info, visit www.diveheart.org.