Red Sea May 2018

a deptherapy blog

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20 May2018

Roots Expedition May 2018 • Day #3

by Mark Moore | 20th May 2018

I do not know what I expected of the Adaptive Teaching Course but I certainly didn’t expect it to be as challenging and thought provoking as it is. You really do have to think out of the box, not just some of the time, but all of the time.

The expertise of the teaching team is amazing and the knowledge of various disabilities and just as importantly, the effects of medication on an individual’s ability to dive, highlights the complexity of this area of work. 

The temperature over here makes prolonged sessions in the classroom undesirable so there is a mix of early morning presentations followed by dives in the Red Sea.

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Our dive today was somewhat different; we had to teach skills to our buddy who was wearing a blacked out dive mask to simulate a person without sight. We then had to take that person for a dive. When it was my turn to be the person without sight I found myself completely lost, I had no idea where I was in relation to the reef and I had no sense of depth. 

We were then asked to complete a horizontal controlled emergency swimming ascent, without using our legs and only using one arm for propulsion. I need to say this is a very important skill in the event a diver runs out of air. I am now in awe of the divers who were around me who find this skill easy.  We able bodied students probably managed to cover about 2 metres, rather than the nine required to achieve the standard and instead of swimming in a straight line we went around in circles!

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What I have noticed is the very intense relationship between the teaching team and the programme members.  At Gatwick Airport it was obvious that those new to the programme were nervous, apprehensive, and somewhat withdrawn.  Three days in and what an amazing change. I don’t know how the instructional team unlock the potential of their students. It is difficult to explain the closeness but there is a warmth and strength to it that as someone new to this work I find very touching and emotional. 

Our instructor spoke about coping with seeing young people with devastating physical injuries, but also about understanding the extent of the mental issues that many suffer. We were told that often programme members will make disclosures about the state of their mental health, family life etc.  I became aware today that several of the young men we are working with were having emotional discussions with the staff.  There were lots of hugs and tears. Programme members are encouraged to be open and their interactions with the team are cathartic.

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In the afternoon we followed the coral conservation course as they started mapping the reef. The buoyancy of those without limbs was stunning and seeing them propel themselves through the water just using their arms is something to behold. Everyone helps everyone else, they really are brothers in arms, and I mean that literally. I saw one diver with no legs, perfectly neutrally buoyant, holding a slate so that his buddy who had only one arm could write down the data he had obtained from the reef. In the evening, those of us on the Pros’ Course were invited to attend the

Instructional team meeting. I shouldn’t have been surprised but the detail in which they discuss each individual and group is painstaking. They discuss physical health and mental health, who needs support and how they will give that support. Two senior programme members, both who are without legs, contribute considerably to the discussions. 

 

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This was followed by a full team meeting where all the programme members talk individually about how their day has been. One of the Open Water divers, Jason, spoke very powerfully and emotionally about the difference these three days had made to his life. It was very touching, very open and when he finished speaking the whole team broke into applause.

After dinner there was a presentation by one of the programme members about coral. It was fascinating, detailed and a presentation and piece of research that anyone would be proud of.

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