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PADI AmbassaDiver Cody Unser Gives Divers with Disabilities a New Perspective

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The Cody Unser First Step Foundation’s (CUFSF) quality of life motto is “Changing Lives One Dive at a Time.” Embodying the Health and Wellness Pillar of PADI’s Four Pillars of Change initiative, PADI recently released a short film showcasing the inspirational story of CUFSF founder and PADI AmbassaDiverTM Cody Unser. Unser and her CUFSF dive team provide participants with spinal cord-related paralysis with scuba instruction and PADI® Open Water certification to improve quality of life.

“Scuba is that catalyst that can transform people’s perceptions about what’s possible, and that people with disabilities want to not only live life, but thrive in it!” Unser says.

In June, CUFSF took their message to the No Barriers Summit in north Lake Tahoe, California, USA. A long-standing supporter of CUFSF, the PADI organization attended this immersive event to film Unser and share her story of transcending barriers through adaptive diving. For an inside look at Unser’s work, watch her My PADITM video.

On 12-13 August, Unser and her volunteer dive team conducted a PADI Open Water Diver course for the physical and occupational therapists from the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, along with an introductory scuba event for the institute’s patients. Their goal: to integrate more medical professionals into the world of diving, while showing participants with spinal cord injuries that anything is possible.

“My hope is that the work that we do at the Cody Unser First Step Foundation with our Adaptive Scuba Program will help motivate and inspire the world to become more accepting and adapting for people with disabilities,” Unser says.

Since becoming paralyzed at the age of 12 due to transverse myelitis, Unser has worked to show others how powerful adaptive sports can be for the health and quality of life of people with paralyzing injuries and conditions. By convincing her doctors about the beneficial neurological and psychological effects of scuba diving on paralysis, Unser has demonstrated to the medical world that diving can promote healing.

“Having lost sensation and function in my lower body, diving made me feel whole again. It’s that feeling of freedom and independence that made me want to share it with others who, like me, doubted and feared life with a paralyzed body on land,” Unser says. “Now that doubt and fear doesn’t exist!”

Backing Unser’s work, and other organizations like CUFSF, PADI is launching a new PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course in November, which enables PADI Pros to help people with varying abilities meet PADI course performance requirements. In addition, the program includes a PADI Adaptive Support Diver course for divers interested in learning how to support dive buddies who would benefit from adaptive techniques. PADI’s approach to diver education has always been inclusive: Anyone who meets prerequisites is welcome to participate. This new program aims increase awareness of adaptive techniques that focus on what scuba participants can do rather than on what they can’t.

To participate or donate to the Cody Unser First Steps Foundation fundraising efforts, visit its Go Fund Me page.

Source: www.divenewswire.com

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Wining and Diving – South Africa

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The Wining and Diving series sees Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown embark on a tour to tickle the taste buds as well as to discover amazing dive sites in wine-making regions around the world. Some of the best wines are influenced by sea breezes and a coastal climate, allowing two of Nick and Caroline’s passions to be combined into one epic journey.

**Please note, Nick and Caroline are not encouraging drinking before diving! The two activities are kept well apart on each of these trips.

South Africa’s coastline is wild and rugged and has some of the best marine encounters and diving in the world! It is also home to some superb vineyards and so this is a top destination for Wining & Diving! If you have enough time, then try to fit in several destinations on a tour; take in the Sardine Run, go Great White Shark cage diving, snorkel with Blue and Mako Sharks, try to find Sevengill Sharks in the kelp forest, meet the raggies and oceanic shark species near Aliwal Shoal and make sure you dive with the Cape Fur Seals just down the road from Cape Town. Head north for the stunning reefs of Sodwana Bay and even fit in a land safari too! But make sure you make time to visit some of the top vineyards at Stellenbosch and Constantia too, which are just a stones throw from Cape Town and can be done on a day trip.

Our tour took in the lot and this is an experience to be shared with friends. You have to be lucky with the Sardine Run, but the rewards are great if you are there at the right time, with dolphins, sharks, whales and seabirds all competing for the feast of sardines that migrates up the coast in early summer. It is fast and furious, but can also involve long days out on the boat bobbing and waiting for the action to happen.

Flying into Durban you can often combine Aliwal Shoal to start your Sardine Run trip, to get the chance to dive the famous Cathedral Rock and then drift out into the blue for Blacktip and Tiger Sharks.

Gaansbai is the most famous place for Great White Shark cage diving, although recent years have seen numbers falling away, possibly due to the presence of Orca.

Cape Town offers penguins, Blue and Mako Sharks, Sevengill Cow Sharks, Great Whites and the chance to mess about with Cape Fur Seals, who will seek out divers and play among the kelp fronds for as long as you can stay in the cool water. It is here that you can add a few days visiting vineyards and touring the stunning countryside before you head home.

We would love to go back and spend more time in South Africa, as we did not have time for the Mako Shark snorkeling and would like to try again for the cow sharks too. South Africa has so much to offer it is very hard to fit everything into a single trip! It is a high energy and super-productive trip under the water and a wonderful place to relax with your favourite glass of wine in the evening.

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Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021 announced

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Ningaloo Coast-based photographer, Aimee Jan, has been announced as the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021.

Aimee’s beautiful image of a green sea turtle surrounded by glass fish was captured on the world-famous Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Chosen from thousands of submissions from around the world, it was a unanimous winner amongst the seven world-renowned Ocean Photography Awards judges.

In second place is Exeter-based photographer, Henley Spiers, with a beautiful photograph of diving gannets off the Shetland Islands, Scotland. In third place is Sydney-based photographer, Matty Smith, with an image of a hawksbill turtle hatchling heading out to sea for the first time.

This year has also seen the introduction of the Female Fifty Fathoms Award, a new nomination category designed to celebrate inspiring women in ocean photography. LA-based photographer and biology teacher, Renee Capozzola, has been announced the inaugural winner for her beautiful portfolio of work.

A free, outdoor public exhibition alongside the River Thames, on the Queen’s Walk near Tower Bridge, will be open to the public until October 17th.

The Ocean Photography Awards has a simple mission: to shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces. The competition has this year been produced by Oceanographic Magazine in partnership with Blancpain, Princess Yachts and Tourism Western Australia, and in support of conservation organisation SeaLegacy.

Marc A Hayek, president and CEO of Blancpain, said: “As a keen scuba diver and underwater photographer, I appreciate what it takes to capture extraordinary photographs of the ocean: passion, skill and commitment to your craft. The finalists of the Ocean Photography Awards 2021 display those assets in abundance. Their images reveal the ocean for what it is – or at least what it should be – a place full of life, colour and wonder. They also remind us of the injustices we are inflicting upon it. What a powerful collection of photographs.”

Kiran Haslam, chief marketing officer at Princess Yachts, said: “We are honoured to have seen outstanding images submitted this year; they are of incredible standard, capturing some truly exceptional moments. The images submitted in this year’s OPA, without doubt, poignantly highlight the fact that the most important thing we can do right now is act quickly to protect our planet and our ocean.”

David Templeman, Western Australian Government Tourism Minister, said: “This year’s finalists have done an incredible job, not just in capturing aquatic adventures so evocatively, but in inspiring new audiences to treasure them.”

Cristina Mittermeier, co-founder and president of SeaLegacy, said: “The calibre of the images submitted to the second annual Ocean Photography Awards was incredible! I, along with my fellow judges, were challenged and more than impressed by the entries this year. We spent a lot of time discussing the power these images have to inspire people all over the world to advocate for ocean protection. We also spent a considerable amount of time admiring the incredible artistry. Thank you to everyone who entered, and congratulations to this year’s finalists.

To find out more about the Ocean Photography Awards visit their website by clicking here.

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