Kyle Vandermolen: Participation in adaptive scuba diving creates a more inclusive underwater world.
Efforts to spur inclusion across sports and recreational activities create dynamic opportunities for individuals to share their hobbies and athletic pursuits with interested individuals with physical or cognitive impairments. Through programs like the Mary Free Breed Adaptive scuba diving clinic, a more diverse underwater experience is emerging.
Kyle Vandermolen is an experienced chemical engineer with a passion for scuba diving. He is a technical scuba diver fully trained in the use of rebreathers and is a full cave diver. In his spare time, he pursues recreational cave diving, shipwreck diving, and open ocean water diving.
In recent years, this has also included participation in a unique, inclusive event.
Kyle Vandermolen on adaptive scuba diving
As a scuba diver, Vandermolen fully understands the joy and freedom a person can experience underwater and enjoys sharing it with others. Traditionally, scuba diving is not necessarily conducive to those with limited physical or cognitive abilities.
However, the Mary Free Bed Hospital found a way to let interested applicants and participants in existing rehabilitation programs experience the joy of diving with the help of qualified individuals like Kyle Vandermolen.
Through the use of a high school pool and helping hands, participants in the Mary Free Bed program could enjoy adaptive scuba diving in a controlled environment. For some, the training was an opportunity to pursue the activity one time, but it’s also a repeat option as an annual event.
Participants were suited up and dived with partners who helped them engage in underwater activities, such as a Frisbee toss and swimming through hula hoops. They also experienced the unique feeling of breathing with a tank and the weight of gear.
For Kyle Vandermolen and other volunteers, the event helped them learn new ways to help others interact with activities and connect with patients of the rehabilitation clinic.
Many found the event exciting and look forward to new and similar experiences. These events help patients reinforce previously acquired skills, such as swimming and swimming underwater, exercise, develop dexterity and flex social skills around new friends and instructors.
The exchanges are meaningful for all involved and can help create more inclusive opportunities in the future.