The non-profit scuba diving organization Diveheart boldly says of itself: “We focus on abilities not disabilities to instill the ‘can do’ spirit and it is our hope to inspire participants to take on challenges that before might have seemed impossible.”
On a recent Sunday morning, a group of five local youth with either autism or Down syndrome and their parents put Diveheart to the test to see if the organization could really build confidence, independence and self-esteem in children, adults and veterans of all abilities through scuba diving, scuba therapy and related activities.
The five included Sean Kennedy, 18, of Panther Ridge; Dustin McDonald, 15, of Grayhawk Landing; Sean Blaney, 12 of Rotonda in Charlotte County; Josiah Nowak, 11, Bradenton and Grayson Tullio, 14, of Lakewood Ranch.
On hand were four Diveheart scuba diving volunteers, including Corissa Leung, Diveheart team leader for the Tampa St. Petersburg area, which includes Manatee County along with dive coaches Christina Weger, Clint Seeley, Linda Miller and John Weidner, who is Miller’s husband. Seeley, Miller and Weidner are all from Parrish and attend Bayside Community Church.
“It’s fun,” Leung said of volunteering for Diveheart. “The kids love it. We work…