Water, weightlessness - and freedom. They’re just a few of the ingredients in a new program that’s won an SA disability group national recognition!
‘Determined2’ is a new group, with new ideas – and it’s getting results.
“Unique SCUBA program a pathway to possibilities”
“This is what possible looks like.”
That’s what Determined2’s Facebook page says – and now the whole of Australia knows it!
Earlier this month [November] the fledgling Adelaide-based group triumphed at the 10th National Disability Awards, winning the award for Excellence in Inclusive Service Delivery.
Among the things that make the group so successful – and so unique – is this: it’s the only organisation in Australia offering Immersion Therapy, a medically approved SCUBA program.
It’s open to people with disabilities (often very severe), injury or other medical condition (including mental illness). Its benefits include:
So far Determined2 has succeeded in getting medical permission – for the first time anywhere in the world – for someone with diagnosed epilepsy to go SCUBA diving.
Other Immersion Therapy participants include Ed Cheesman, whose cerebral palsy means he has no muscular control, can’t speak, and is in constant pain.
In a letter he penned using a method of blinking, Ed says the transformation underwater is incredible:
“I feel so calm in the water… The pain and tightness I feel in my joints and muscles disappear.”
(Ed was recently profiled by the ABC - see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-07/underwater-world-honoured-for-immersion-therapy-disability-award/7994902).
But Determined2 is about much more than therapy: for many people it’s also a pathway back into regular recreation and sports activity – and social connection.
The group’s founder and managing director Pete Wilson says his philosophy is about opening up participants’ options – and their expectations about what they can get out of life:
“We wanted it to go beyond just therapy,” he says.
“So, when people come for Immersion Therapy, we encourage them to join Disability Recreation and Sports SA. If their rehab isn’t funded [ie they’re not on worker’s compensation or similar] I make it compulsory to join. That way DRSS can pay for the therapy.”
And – there’s a broader benefit: “Unless you know about all DRSSA’s possibilities, how can you take advantage of them??”
Joining DRSSA means gaining access to a sporting menu that includes wheelchair basketball and rugby, fencing, target shooting and lawn bowls. The recreation options are also plentiful; there’s fishing, canoeing, songwriting – even circus.
And of course, there’s the social re-engagement that comes with all those. Pete Wilson says in the past year, of the 120 or so people who’ve used Determined2’s therapy service, about 30 of those have gone on to become regular participants in one (or more) of DRSSA’s sports and rec options.
He says that re-engagement is one of the biggest rewards:
“We have had some people who at first thought they couldn’t take part in other sports - but find out they certainly can!”
The Office for Recreation and Sport has been behind Determined2 since day one, via a $48,000 grant to DRSSA under the Sport & Recreation Development and Inclusion Program.
Image courtesy of Determined2's Facebook page