Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it!
Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it!
The project to enable two girls with cerebral palsy to dive with dolphins.
The aim of this blog is to provide everyone with what we are doing, a full no bars account of the trials and tribulations of delivering on a promise. A very simple promise on the face of it to dive with fish and dolphins in their natural habitat.
SCUBA diving should be fully inclusive but when costs are high is it really?
Dream it - How did this all start?
(this section has been written by the girls mum - Claudia)
This all started years ago when I saw an article in our local magazine about a local diving club who claimed to be open to people with disabilities. Always on the lookout for activities my twin daughters can access (disability is not often catered for in a rural location), I called Dive Rutland and asked if it was true? Without hesitation, Tracey said ‘yes we are’! And so began my dream, for both of them both to learn to dive. Little did I know Tracey would take this several steps further, making them a fateful promise: ‘If you work hard at this, one day you’ll dive with dolphins!’
Josie has milder cerebral palsy than her sister. She is ambulant and relatively agile. But due to poor core stability, spatial awareness, concentration, visual perception, and a host of other issues, trips, bumps and falls are frequent. As a little girl bloody knees and hands came with tears as an everyday occurrence, even when her friends had long grown out of them. After using a walking frame for months, she finally walked independently at two and a half years old.
Interestingly, Josie is very expressive in her physicality - she has always loved to dance for example. So, I’ve often wished for her to experience an environment without gravity and hard surfaces, where she could experience freedom of movement without constant disappointment, pain and embarrassment. Scuba diving, it seemed to me, might just provide her with that.
Further, Josie is passionate about wildlife and has long had a passion for dolphins in particular since she was given an ‘Adopt a Dolphin’ present as a young girl. That dolphin undoubtedly fed into her passion for all animals. This led to a weekend job at our local zoo and ultimately a professional career beginning this September as she leaves school to embark on an Animal Studies course at college. So, of course, Tracey’s promise was all the more tantalising for Josie!
When Josie began diving she took to it instantly, finding her freedom in seconds! She was thrilled at being able to move freely, express her physicality and to get from A to B without mishap. She quickly learned the techniques needed to learn and progress through the practical skills and has gained her Junior PADI Seals Team certificate. She’s now ready to begin her Open Water qualification and find those dolphins!
The challenge for Elsa Maria is more fundamental. Her cerebral palsy is profound and complex, meaning she has all the difficulties Josie has but to a greater degree. Elsa can’t stand or walk, even with help. She uses a powerchair and is hoisted for all transfers. She too, loves to express herself physically but clearly this is much harder for her to achieve. She works hard at her physiotherapy exercises every single day and has made great progress, but this can be demoralising when it’s the same set of floor-based activities day in, day out. So, how amazing would it be for her to be underwater where, with the right amount of buoyancy, she could potentially move from one place to another independently . . . and that movement could be in three dimensions?!
Elsa struggled with the breathing regulator during her PADI Bubblemaker course as her poor muscle tone combined with her tendency to smile (Tracey’s way too funny!) meant water was getting in and she couldn’t stay under for long. So, during covid, Tracey devised a plan and that was to try Elsa in a Full Face Mask as it would allow Elsa to breath directly into the space in front of her. This made communication easier; smiles are now allowed; the mother is less stressed; and amazingly, she achieved her PADI Seal certificate!
So, like Josie, Elsa Maria is holding Tracey to her promise of diving with dolphins and their next step is the HSA Open Water qualification. There’s a lot of pool and theory work to put in before then but we’re well and truly onto the ‘Believe it’ section of this crazy dream that began all those years ago!
This phase of our project is about me (Tracey) actually working out how to deliver on that promise of diving with Dolphins. A promise that was not made lightly and although we could take the easy route of diving in an aquarium. Elsa Maria is confined to her wheelchair and is free when under the water, why take her to a captive environment - she is already captive and like the animals in an aquarium they should be free to!
We need to raise as a rough guide £10K for Elsa Maria and £5K for Josie. These costs will be formalised and formally tracked against but here goes:-
|£1680||Pool Costs - Oakham School currently £70 + VAT (£84)/ Hour - Estimate 20 hours but might need more|
|PADI Elearning Josie|
|HSA or other agency materials Elsa Maria|
|£300||In water Career / Support Staff for Elsa Maria £15 / Hour|
|£1600.00||Flights to Egypt - Elsa Maria / Josie|
|£800.00||Flights to Egypt - Mum|
|£2400.00||Flights to Egypt - 3 Carers / Support Staff for Elsa Maria & Josie|
|£800.00||Flights to Egypt - 2 Dive Rutland staff|
|Extra Baggage Required for Care items for Elsa Maria|
|Accomodation / Visas / Transfers / Food x 11|
Working on 2023 pricing
- We have set up a GoFundMe page, for anyone to donate however much they can afford as we all appreciate that times are hard. https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-elsa-marie-become-a-qualified-scuba-diver?
- Dive Rutland club has registered on easyfundraising and setup a fundraiser. This does not cost you the user anything, it is about raising FREE donations whenever you shop online. Brands pay a commission when you shop from the easyfundraising website or app and that commission is paid to our fundraiser. To sign up and support us go to https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/dive-rutland-club?&utm_source=adminact22sharebox
We are using a number of hashtags on the Dive Rutland social media and we hope that people will not only donate, but watch our social media, read this blog and generally support the girls in achieving their dream.
#dreamitbelieveitachieveit #elsamariascuba #disabilitydiving #cerebalpalsy