Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Disability: The Adventure

Pushing the envelope of what we can and can not do.

As a disabled person, I am reminded almost daily about my in-built limitations -- what I can and can not do.

Some barriers are blatant... that seemingly insurmountable mountain of steps which pile upwards toward the doors of the courthouse are one example. Lady Justice may be blind, but she certainly doesn't ride in a wheelchair.

Then we have the barriers which are not quite as obvious. Deep pile shag carpet that seems custom made for bogging down the wheels of your power chair. Car doors which don't open quite far enough. "Child Safe" containers which require the use of two good hands, and the strength of Hercules to open. I'm sure we all have our own personal favorites to add to that list.

But then we come to a third set of barriers which I like to call "perceptual" barriers. These are barriers which we build up in our own mind, but in reality are not quite the barriers we perceive them to be. Let's try a little test.

Which of the following activities are impossible for someone who does not have the full use of both legs?

1. Downhill snow skiing.
2. Mountain climbing.
3. SCUBA diving.

If you answered "none" then you are absolutely right. Every day, scores of handicapped people enjoy these leisure sports, and more, due in some cases to the use of adaptive equipment, but in others due simply to the overwhelming desire to "see if it can be done."

While the Toledo area is not well known for downhill skiing or mountain climbing, we do have a wonderful resource right here if you've ever wanted to try your hand (or fins) at SCUBA diving.

Aqua Hut (located at 2543 N. Reynolds in Toledo) is, according to their website, "Toledo's only SSI (SCUBA Schools International) Platinum training facility" offering certified S.C.U.B.A. (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) training as well as a host of other programs and services of interest to Toledo area divers.

Of special interest to our local disabled community is their newly launched Discover Scuba program, which provides free training, support and the use of diving equipment to any qualified disabled person over the age of twelve (see website for additional details.)

Initiated locally by retired Toledo firefighter Greg Locher and Aqua Hut owner Jeff Davis, Discover SCUBA is a free diving program certified by the Handicapped SCUBA Association, and the instructors are trained to help people with a myriad of disabilities to become comfortable underwater. All you need is enthusiasm and a bathing suit. For more information on their next Discover SCUBA event call Aqua Hut at 419-531-4655 or Greg Locher at 419-882-5479.

So, the moral of this story is, you are probably not as limited as you think you are. Spring is coming to Toledo, and with it the opportunity to try new things. Learn to explore your "limits" -- learn to question your self-limiting beliefs. Is SCUBA diving not your thing? Then look into trying something else. By expanding your horizons, you expand your world. Isn't that what makes Life just a bit more worth living?

As for me, I just might have to try SCUBA diving. Sounds like fun!

P.S. Found This YouTube Video about the last event. Enjoy!

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